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First Dates’ Raymon taught us all an important lesson about loneliness

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As fans of Channel 4’s First Dates will know, the majority of the hopeful romantics who bounce into the restaurant are looking for that special ‘spark’. They want someone who gives them butterflies, gets their heart pounding, and makes them feel more than a little hot around the collar.

Raymon’s aspirations, however, were far smaller.

“They don’t have to talk,” he told the cameras. “Just to hear somebody else breathing – that’s all I require.”

Read more: Pensioner, 89, offered bar job after his “dying of boredom” ad goes viral

The 90-year-old gentleman, who was the oldest ever person to appear on the show (25 April), revealed that his beloved wife passed away 16 years ago, shortly before they were due to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

“We adored each other,” he said simply. “I think I knew love.”

Raymon went on to recall an anecdotal story from their honeymoon, which saw the couple realise that they’d been given two single beds by mistake. They improvised by pushing them together – but it didn’t exactly do the trick.

“When we went to bed and got together in the middle, the bed spread apart and we ended up on the floor,” said a visibly emotional Raymon.

Breaking down into tears, he sobbed: “You don’t forget things like that. I can’t help it... I can’t forget.”

The pensioner went on to reveal that he feels incredibly lonely, often going to the supermarket just so that he can enjoy a conversation with another human being.

It was this need to speak to someone, to get out of the house and hear people’s voices around him, that inspired Raymon to apply for First Dates.

Read more: Why we are so scared of growing old

Raymon was paired up with similarly lonesome pensioner Cecilia (whose age was not disclosed).

The pair got along like a house on fire, and even enjoyed a little dance together, but they later decided that they were not the perfect match.

And, while Channel 4 informed viewers that the duo have stayed in touch, they do not have plans to meet again.

Raymon’s story left many viewers moved, with many flocking to Twitter to express their concern for the nonagenarian.

However there was one tweet, in particular, that caught our eye.

“[This episode] can teach us all to take the time to have a conversation with an elderly person,” it read. “It may be the only chat they have that day.”

Read more: Carey Mulligan pens powerful essay about grandmother’s dementia

The tweet is a staunch reminder that Raymon is just one of many people who could use a friend right here in the UK.

According to Age UK, there are 1.2 million older people in the country who are suffering from chronic loneliness: 200,000 have not had a conversation with a friends or family for a month, and an overwhelming 3.9 million say that the television is their main form of company.

There are many reasons for this epidemic of loneliness: some are living alone, have been widowed or divorced, have lost contact with friends and family, or have limited opportunities to participate in social occasions. Others are suffering from poor health, and so find it difficult to leave their homes. And some have just found that the ways in which more and more of are choosing to connect in today’s society (such as through social media apps) are inaccessible to them.

“No one should have no one,” the charity says on its website, where it urges people to reach out to the elderly in their community or sign up to Age UK’s befriending services.

First Dates, meanwhile, has encouraged viewers to help older relatives to apply for the show.

You can find out about Age UK’s befriending services (both telephone and face-to-face) on the website. Or, if you are worried about an elderly relative or neighbour, there’s also advice on how best to overcome loneliness.

Images: Channel 4


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