Loved ones ‘zoom’ in for 90th birthday party

Ron Smith Care Centre resident Shelagh Hawes celebrated her 90th birthday surrounded by love and in the presence of her family, despite visitors not being allowed onto the Rand Aid property as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

Sister Leanie Bessinger made sure her birthday on May 19 was a memorable occasion by inviting her loved ones to join in via a Zoom meeting. The virtual presence of Shelagh’s children and grandchildren – some of whom live in the USA – made her day.

“They were all absolutely delighted to be able to see and talk to each other,” says Debbie Christen, Rand Aid’s Manager: Recreational Programmes. “Shelagh’s granddaughter Lynn later sent a word of thanks: ‘You have made a difference in our world. Thank you again’.”

One of Shelagh’s sons, Patrick, sent this message by WhatsApp: ‘Very awesome pics of my mum’s birthday! Thanks for a wonderful party. You guys are fantastic!

“Messages, birthday greetings, pictures and videos continued to be received from her family for the rest of the day and she later had a video call with another relative who lives overseas,” says Debbie.

“Her Lakeside family, which is the wing on which she lives in the care centre, sang Happy Birthday to her, after which she blew out her birthday candles and two enormous cakes were served. The lovely box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates she received as a gift, however, was reserved as a special treat just for her!”  

“The care centre is making every effort to ensure its residents and their family members stay connected during the lockdown,” says Sr Leanie.