Belfast Telegraph

Carrick woman reduced to tears by girls' random act of kindness

Romaine Duffin with mother Robena McAuley and Nell the bear at care home Glenabbey Manor in Glengormley, Belfast
Romaine Duffin with mother Robena McAuley and Nell the bear at care home Glenabbey Manor in Glengormley, Belfast

By Christopher Leebody

A Carrickfergus woman is appealing for help in tracking down two girls whose kindness reduced her mother to tears.

Romaine Duffin and her 88-year-old mum Robena McAuley, who suffers from dementia, were enjoying an afternoon coffee together while out browsing the local charity shops.

While time together outside Glenabbey Manor care home, where Robena lives, is always special, it was the actions of two girls on this occasion which took them aback.

"We were in a shop and having a cup of coffee and these two little girls came into the shop and asked, 'Please may we use your bathroom?' My mummy, even with the dementia, recognised the impeccable manners," said Romaine.

"We had stuff to leave off at the Drop Inn Ministries, a charity shop in the town. The woman in the shop saw the girls searching for something very nice that she (Robena) would love."

Both girls, who were not known by the staff in the shop, appeared to be around 10 or 11 years old.

They presented Robena with a pink cuddly bear, which she was over the moon to receive, with Romaine confessing that her mother "loves teddy bears".

"The two little girls came up to my mum with a little pink bear," she said. "The smile on her face was heart-rending. She hugged and cuddled it. She was just over the moon.

"It was a lovely pink teddy bear with a rainbow on its tummy. (My mum) just loves bright colours. It was their own pocket money spent on an 88-year-old lady.

"If only you could have seen the smile on my mum's face when they handed her this teddy bear."

Robena was diagnosed with dementia four years ago.

"It is a very heart-rending disease and disability. It is like watching someone disappear," said Romaine.

"I have her out most days, even just for a wee run in the car, a picnic or a bit of shopping.

"Her greatest fear in life was that she would have dementia and she made me promise I would never tell her if she did.

"She is in a lovely, happy world at the moment".

While the gift was an unexpected surprise, the warmth of Romaine's mother's presence normally draws people to the pensioner, particularly among the staff at Glenabbey Manor.

"It is a beautiful place and she is so well cared for. She loves all the staff there and they are really kind to her," she said.

"She is the most gentle person and she is very sociable and just loves children - she was once a teacher at Sunnylands Primary School."

Romaine said her mother had loved to drive around the nearby towns in her "pride and joy" green car before her illness.

"She always had a sparkly handbag and was always immaculate. She was great fun and always a great sense of humour," she added.

Romaine admitted she had been "overwhelmed" and "so touched". by the girls' gift.

"I couldn't say anything nice enough. I have just thought about it all over the weekend. It has brought me to tears," she said.

"People say about children that they don't have respect and manners, but these two wee girls were impeccable and a credit to their parents.

"I'm sure it would be lovely for their teachers as well."

Romaine is hopeful that someone will recognise the two young girls from the shop, allowing them to receive recognition for their generous act.

"I would love to get them some recognition for their kindness if they could be found," she said. "It meant the world to my mother."

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