There is never a good time, but Rita Thomson’s neck injury could not have come at a worse time as the Covid-19 lockdown took hold.

The injury meant that she was no longer able to carry bags to go shopping, and gardening was out of the question at her home in Lymington Road, Upton, Torquay.

Under normal circumstances she would have been able to rely on the kindness of friends and family to get through, but they too were locked down.

At the beginning of April, she reluctantly she turned to the Torbay Community Coronavirus Helpline for help with her shopping and medications.

Community builder Tara Acton was on hand at first but then she put Rita in touch with volunteer Bob Ward, who lives not far away in Torwood Gardens Road and he started shopping for her.

A friendship began to develop as they got to know each over cups of tea, and Bob offered to find someone to do the garden for her. That someone turned out to be him and he has now been back three times.

“He has the strength of Samson,” said Rita, “He has cleared out the front and mowed the lawn. He is very friendly and would do anything for you, he is one of those salt-of-the-earth types.”

Rita, who was born not far from where she now lives, moved away for more than 34 years to Scotland with her submariner husband John whom she married in 1966.

They had their own shop and her husband, a master horn carver, was one of the foremost horn carvers in Scotland. But when he died in 2000 she felt a pull back to the Bay.

Now in her 70s, she can’t wait for her neck to heal and for things to return enough to normal to meet up with her friends and family – she has two daughters living in Scotland who are in regular contact via WhatsApp.

She also wants to get back to knitting with Torbay Yarn bombers with whom she has knitted with for the past two years.

“I have been able to go out for walks, which is lovely but the neck pain makes things very frustrating. But I am lucky that I have a garden and to have Bob who I can always rely on,” she added.

And that is #TorbayKind