Every week, we send a couple out on a blind date. This time, we feature two people who are returning to dating for the first time in more than 40 years following the death of a spouse.
Robert Hammon, 65, is a retired environmental scientist from Worcester, who has been a widower since January 2015.
Sandra Verney, 65, is retired from administrative work. She lost her husband three years ago and lives in Warwick. They had lunch at Bacchus Bar in Birmingham.
Before the date, I was nervous — not only was it my first in 40 years, I’ve never been on a blind date before. To help me feel comfortable, my female friends came with me on the train, and they sat in the bar until they were sure I was OK.
I didn’t want to make Robert feel uncomfortable, but he understood why they had come with me. They were discreet and sat where they couldn’t see us.
When my husband Robin was alive, we used to go to the same restaurant, so I felt he was watching over me, too, and letting me know it was all right.
I have no children, so when Robin died three years ago after 36 years of marriage, I wanted to keep busy. I volunteer at a garden in Warwick and at a hospital.
I spend time gardening and visiting National Trust properties, and I’ve a great circle of friends. But I decided it’s time to start dating again. I’m looking for a companion who shares my interests and is reasonably fit and active. And I like to laugh, so they must have a sense of humour.
I immediately thought Robert was nice and smartly dressed. I could tell we were as nervous as each other and was relieved to learn he had not been on any dating websites either; I felt we were on equal ground.
He was easy to talk to, and a true gentleman — we started chatting straight away. I thought he was handsome, but I didn’t think about chemistry because it’s been so long since I’ve had to. But it felt good to be there, laughing with someone new, and it made me realise how lucky I am and how much I treasure my friends.
Before we left, Robert gave me a brooch and a note with his contact details and said it was up to me to get in touch if I’d like to, which was thoughtful. I have emailed him to thank him. We’ve been in touch and plan to meet up again soon.
It’s been such a positive experience and I was pleased I went — otherwise, I would have wondered if I could face starting dating again. It was lovely to get on with him so well, but when I left for my train I felt I needed to go home to process it all.
Getting myself to this point had been quite daunting, and the build-up to the date had been quite stressful.
When I met up with my friends afterwards to report back, I couldn’t fault him. Next time, we might go to Warwick Castle, and it will be much less formal.
Charming, a true gentleman and attractive.
After writing in to put myself forward for this blind date, I told my two daughters; it was the first time I had broached the subject of dating since their mother’s death three years ago and I was nervous. But they were excited for me and that meant so much. My elder daughter even gave me The Ladybird Book Of Dating!
I was married for 39 years — and for the last ten years of that time, I cared for my wife Elaine as she suffered terribly with diabetes. Three years after her death, I can hardly remember what ‘normal living’ is. In a way, I feel I’ve become redundant. My daughters recently married, so it’s time to think about the rest of my life. It’s daunting, as I’ve not been on a date since my wife died. But I would like to find someone to share things with socially, intellectually and lovingly.
It’s no fun being on your own all the time.
I love gardening (and especially seeing National Trust gardens), walking, Pilates, tai chi and bowls. I also keep myself busy volunteering with Age UK and the local Evergreen social club.
I live in the beautiful countryside which means, among other things, patchy mobile reception, slow broadband speeds and not many chances to meet people my age. The ladies I meet volunteering and at my bowls club are a generation older than me.
I bought a new shirt and trousers for the date. And I got a new haircut! I arrived at the restaurant with 15 minutes to spare and ordered a beer.
Five minutes later a lovely woman approached, beaming like a basket of chips! That’s a saying I picked up when I lived in Liverpool — it means having a broad grin and a happy, bubbly nature.
I ordered her a spritzer and we shooed the waitress away for a little while as we got to know each other. I would have taken flowers had I not come on the train, but I gave her a brooch with a teddy holding flowers instead, with a card with my number on it as a memento.
I understood why Sandra brought her friends with her; they didn’t encroach on the date, and I’m glad she had the support.
It was non-stop talking from the word go. We discussed our partners first. In fact, it felt natural to be sitting beside a lovely lady and having a chat as if we had known each other for years.
We seemed to have the same ideals. For example, we’re both 65 but we don’t feel old. I felt there was a connection, but I didn’t have the nerve to flirt. I thought it would be better to wait until I knew how Sandra felt.
All too soon, she said she had a train to catch. I gave her the gift and a little kiss on the lips goodbye, and said it was up to her if she wanted to contact me.
I was delighted to receive an e-card that evening to say thank you. I would love to see Sandra again and hopefully she can show me around Warwick Castle.
Lovely smile, nice eyes, good listener.
The date wasn’t long enough.