Our oldest user at the moment is a wellderly-elderly widow, 82 years young, living in British Columbia, Canada. I’ll call her Mary, to protect her anonymity. For many years Mary worked as a hospital nurse. Though she’s long since retired, the memories of working life aren’t far from reach.
These days Mary’s interests include the arts, education and increasingly seniors’ issues. She’s community minded. Unfortunately, Mary’s mobility limits her interests these days… there’s little dancing, other than in my mind, and no more lawn bowls!
We’ve matched Mary up with John. John is your typical, busy working professional – a people photographer by day, and night, with not a lot of time in between. He’s based just outside London, England.
Geographically speaking there’s about 7,000km or so between Mary and John. In many ways the social distance is equally vast – their day-to-day lives couldn’t be much more different. However, given some simple background information about them both, we figured there was a decent chance they’d strike up an unlikely friendship.
Our task at Audrey is to find a piece of common ground between two strangers, which will help to foster a meaningful connection, whilst knowing the pair have distinctly different life journeys. We believe pretty much everyone, from whatever their walk of life, have something in common, it’s just sometimes tricky putting a finger on what that is.
‘Audrey‘ is a live audio experience which brings together readers with listeners online to read aloud interesting and thought-provoking works of fiction and non-fiction. The experience is for everyone who enjoys reading and social connection. People can choose to be either the reader, listener or both.
Once a week Mary and John connect together online over their phones. John reads aloud to Mary for about 10 minutes or so, and then they chat, often delving into some pretty deep and heartfelt conversations. We try our best to curate an engaging book for our readers and listeners in order that the shared reading experience is as meaningful as possible.
John is reading a book called ‘The Language of Kindness’ by Christie Watson. This is Christie’s story of twenty years in nursing and her account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion, and kindness. As we’d hoped, the book really resonated; remember Mary spent her career as a nurse!
When John fed back about the first reading session he said ‘the first reading went really well, very moving indeed, and Mary loved it’. This was music to my ears! Mary went into a little more detail and here’s a copy of her message to me…
Hello Rob, Today Thursday 5th. John phoned at 8.01 a.m precisely, teatime in London for him after his daily shoots. He is a busy gentleman and an absolutely beautiful reader to listen to. It took a few days to finally connect but we have agreed to make Mondays “Audrey Day” and he will let me know the time he will call… I had to laugh when he said: “I’m looking at the map and you are in the wild.” Ladysmith is a small town – just hit 10,000 population but still wants to be called a village – but certainly not “in the wild.”
Many tears by me during his reading – voices and faces filling my mind from the past, realizing my story of nursing did not include the bombings hospitals have to contend with now, and the N.H.S dealing with tasks not in evidence in the 50’s…
I did ask him where he did his drama training. Surprise, surprise – where my first husband did his training in ‘the fifties. We shared a few smiles and laughs around plays we’d been involved with….
I’ve had some ribbing from my craft group when telling them about ReadwithAudrey.“It’s a dating system! Don’t give out your name, address, email, phone number, they’ll tap into your bank account – it’s a fraud.” (You’re welcome – it’s non-existent!). Me, “For heaven’s sake, it’s English, it’s a wonderful fantastic idea”.
The idea of people all over the world talking to one another via reading stories is splendid, sharing stories in all languages I imagine – I just can’t wait to spread the word to Sue, my local librarian. We have so many seniors here who are totally isolated and hearing a voice would be so welcome.
I hope your new Minister of Social Isolation is having an impact on what I still think of as ‘my country’ even though I dearly love Canada.
The last two years have not been the easiest, financially or health-wise. “Audrey” through you and John has made me feel cared for and still valuable as a human being. I will never be able to thank you enough – yes, it’s now 11.30 p.m. my time and I’m still crying – mainly now tears of joy.
Make your day a good one. With love and gratitude, Mary
Mary’s feedback captures so beautifully what we’re all about. We’re early in our journey with Audrey, but we’re committed to creating many thousands more matches just like this, where really valuable social connections are born through the shared experience of reading aloud together.
Audrey continues to bring together some unlikely pairings to share reading experiences…. An anaesthetist and a retired psychotherapist… A former judge and a history student… A bioengineer and an accountant… An aspiring actor and a small business owner… A comic book illustrator and a children’s drama teacher. Our community comes together to read aloud with one another from right across the globe, including Mexico, India, the Philippines, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, Romania, and the US.
And there is an interesting story behind every person.
It’s our mission to make Audrey accessible to everyone. If you’d like to give Audrey a try please sign up here and we’ll match you up with a reading partner.