‘Jake the dog helped me feel normal again’: readers on the pandemic’s acts of kindness | Life and style

A Greek holiday in London

My husband and I have had a difficult two years trying to have a baby. The spring lockdown put our IVF treatment on hold, and when clinics reopened we had a gruelling few months of treatment, sadly with no success. We really needed a holiday, but had to cancel our plans for Greece as we were worried about quarantining and whether we could afford it. Two of my closest friends decided that, if I couldn’t go on holiday, they would bring the holiday to me. They organised a wonderful dinner at “Santorini-on-Thames” (my friend’s flat) and cooked glorious Greek food at the “Thames taverna”, which was decorated with fairy lights and a specially made sign. It was such a special evening – they really cheered me up and I’m so grateful to them. Alex, marketing director, London

A surprise cake delivery

My job has shifted to home working. I live alone and mentioned to a colleague I was feeling a bit down after a few weeks out of the office. I got back from walking my dog one day to find that they had dropped by and left a bag of goodies: cake, a bottle of wine and a treat for my dog. I was blown away by their kindness.
Belle, IT worker, Bristol





Alex’s Thames taverna.



Alex’s Thames taverna. Photograph: Image provided by Alexandra Matthews

More face masks than I’ll ever need

I received an email from a student I had taught years ago at a language school – I was surprised he still remembered me, quite honestly. He was an international student from China, and he asked for my mailing address. Two weeks later, I had a gigantic carton full of masks (so many kinds) turn up on my doorstep. I had enough for me to share with my neighbours, friends and family – and seven months later I still haven’t bought a single mask.
Siddiqa Sadiq, English language consultant, Montreal, Canada

Weights to help me stay fit

I have been trying to get fitter over the past year or so and have been doing a pilates class. The classes went online due to lockdown, and I needed some light weights to do the workouts properly, but everywhere had sold out. I ended up talking about this to a stranger (a local man from Risca) while queueing in Tesco – he said he had some light weights he didn’t need so would be happy to give them to me. He dropped them to my house later that day. I would have happily bought them from him, but he wouldn’t hear of it.
Gail Hagerty, part-time civil servant, Newport, south Wales





‘I would have happily bought them – but he wouldn’t hear of it.’



‘I would have happily bought them – but he wouldn’t hear of it.’ Photograph: Punjachoke Jittrapirom/Getty Images/EyeEm

The gift that rescued Easter

My husband has a lung condition, and we were sent a letter just before Easter to say he was in the extremely vulnerable category, so we needed to shield. We could apply to be put on the priority list to get our food delivered, but it would take about two weeks to get sorted. We needed some essentials from the shop, but we couldn’t leave the house to get them. Just a week before, I had swapped numbers with my Italian neighbour – she has two small kids and I wanted to help her out if she needed anything, but then I was the one who needed it. I texted to ask if she could pick us up a few things, and she went and got us everything straight away. She dropped it to our door along with a huge slab of homemade tart and a lovely card saying: “Happy Easter”. The shop hadn’t had bananas, so she gave us two of hers! It was so sweet that I immediately burst into tears.
Laura, outdoor educator, London

The DVD sent by a complete stranger

Early on, my 90-year-old mum went into full isolation. She lives five minutes from me, so I did her shopping. Her first shopping list was for fresh mango and a DVD of North by Northwest. The mango was fine, but the film was not locally available. As I loved her sense of priorities, I tweeted out her request and within a couple of days, Mark Cotton, the podcast editor at Bletchley Park, had posted over his own copy of the DVD for her. Mum was very touched, and really delighted. It seems such a small thing, but I think he understood her request for a favourite film as a distraction during difficult times.
Clare Mulley, nonfiction history author, Essex





A homemade tart that transformed our day.



A homemade tart that transformed our day. Photograph: Raffaella Galvani/Getty Images/EyeEm

The ‘fence fairies’

Our wonderful neighbours took on the role of the “fence fairies” over lockdown. They would hang notes over the fence with little quizzes, small presents, sweets and books almost daily during the first lockdown. It was a godsend for us as we juggled two jobs and three young kids. The children loved it and got more out of the experience than any of our home schooling attempts. Magical.
Ruth, charity worker, Hertfordshire

The baby-weighing scales that put my mind at rest

My neighbour, who works as a health visitor, lent me her baby-weighing scales as she was no longer able to do home visits. I had a five-week-old baby at the start of lockdown and it was incredibly reassuring to be able to weigh him as he went through a huge growth spurt and without it, I would have been concerned that he wasn’t getting enough milk.
Vicki, Weymouth

A lockdown birthday to remember

My son Colin turned 11 in July. He misses his friends so much, but we couldn’t have a proper birthday party. I mentioned to our neighbours that he had enjoyed when they lit a bonfire in their fire pit, and they asked if they could do one on his birthday. On the night of Colin’s birthday there were banners, sweet treats and gifts, and they had written messages on their masks. It was a lovely evening with neighbours we hardly knew before the pandemic.
Patricia Cook, video producer, Virginia, US

A stranger who saved my sister’s birthday

I created a 30th-birthday package for my sister, who lives in New Zealand. It included presents, cards and pictures drawn by my two children (aged five and two). I lost the package on the way to the post office – it must have fallen out of the bottom of the pram – but my sister texted to say she had received it! Someone must have picked it up, taken it to the post office and paid the postage. Thanks, stranger. Laura, researcher in the arts and cultural sector, Liverpool

A much needed gift of confidence

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after our lockdown started; she’s been having chemo alone because of coronavirus restrictions. A good friend of mine owns a hair salon and, once he was allowed to reopen, he went in early in the morning, before salon hours, so I could bring my mom to get a fitting for a wig, since she’s lost her hair. It may sound like the tiniest thing, but he gave my mom back some self-confidence and humanity in the midst of so much isolation and fear.
Nina, store worker, Michigan





‘We spent a very happy Sunday afternoon together.’



‘We spent a very happy Sunday afternoon together.’ Photograph: Justin Paget/Getty Images (Pose by model)

The dog that kept me going

Neighbours in my block were worried that I might be getting lonely in April, during the early phase of lockdown when things were very strange and difficult. They knew I liked dogs, so they asked if I would like to borrow their young labrador, Jake. He duly arrived, complete with his water bowl, blanket and treats, and we spent a very happy Sunday afternoon together. After four weeks of hardly seeing a creature, two-legged or four, Jake brought me back to feeling halfway normal again.
Sue Rowe, retired, London

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