Talk about a friend request!
Tony Williams recently spelled out his wish for companionship by posting a sign in the front window of his home that described the solitude as "unbearable torture,” South West News Service (SWNS) reports. The Alton, East Hampshire, man had previously passed out business cards in a bid to make new connections, with no such luck.
Still determined to branch out, the 75-year-old shared his story with local media, and the plan paid off.
In the days since, the retired physicist said he’s been inundated with phone calls and emails from the U.S., Germany, Holland, Egypt, India, Japan and Australia, as well as local folks.
"The love and compassion people have shown has actually brought tears to my eyes,” Williams explained in a Thursday interview, per SWNS.
"People have sent me the most delightful emails. They've sent me pictures of their kids, their pets, told me about their aspirations and telling me they are thinking of me.”
A local teacher asked Williams if her students could write him letters, an offer which he accepted “straight away.”
All the way in Florida, a woman even offered to show him around the Sunshine State if he ever hopped across the pond.
"One lady phoned up and said if I get on a plane sometime she would pick me up and show me her area of Florida,” Williams said. "Another lady who lives relatively nearby has invited me round for a [gin and tonic] which I'll be keen to do. It's just been gorgeous.”
Now, Williams enjoys chatting on the phone with those who have reached out from around the world and plans to meet up with some new friends nearby, once coronavirus restrictions ease.
In the meantime, the retiree has tons of correspondence to catch up on, having received so many emails that his inbox crashed.
"I've just been completely overwhelmed and am so thankful for it all," he said.
Williams' wife, Jo, passed away in May, nine days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The couple of 35 years had recently relocated from Kempley in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, in order to be closer to Jo's sister.
With no children or friends in the area, the man said he felt "cursed" by loneliness since his wife’s passing and would often go for days without talking to anyone.
Fortunately, the tide seems to have turned for good, as Williams has been flooded with new friends.