A North East pensioner has lived his dream by recreating an iconic World Cup moment alongside an England hero.

Bill Oliphant, 72, a resident of Ashington Grange care home and lifelong Newcastle fan, teamed up with England hero Geoff Hurst to commemorate the latter’s 1966 World Cup winning hat-trick goal.

The pair recreated Kenneth Wolstenhome’s famous line “They think it’s all over, it is now” at St James’ Park, Newcastle in Bill’s first ever video call to his friends.

Mr Oliphant had been suffering with loneliness and isolation after Covid hit before meeting BT worker Ricky who helped organise the event.

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The Northern Echo:

“Meeting Sir Geoff was a dream come true - I’m a huge football fan and being able to commentate ‘that’ moment was incredible. Even more so because we were able to share it with my friend too.” said Mr Oliphant.

“I don’t get many visitors at the home anyway and when Covid hit, the number dropped to almost none. 

“I did feel really lonely and one of the few people I spoke to regularly was Ricky - we bonded over our love of football - and he’s really given me the confidence to try out new technology that makes things easier for me. 

“I’m not very good on electronics so I’m very grateful to Ricky for teaching me, every bit of advice I get is really appreciated.” 

The Northern Echo:

Sir Hurst is working with BT to improve the digital skills of the older generation and to help them stay connected.

He said: “At my age, I meet a lot of people who are on their own and suffer with loneliness. I am fortunate that I’m in regular contact with my immediate family.

“But there are people such as Bill who have very little family around them or at all so it’s a great thing to connect them - through technology - so they can speak to their mates or people they have lost contact with years ago.” 

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Ricky was put in contact with Bill through the BT Care Home Companions scheme and they quickly struck up a friendship in 2020 over football, commentating, and their mutual love of Newcastle United.

He said: “This scheme really resonated with me because my Nana and Grandad live in a rural area and don't have people around them.

“Bill told me all about when he was younger, that he used to go to all the games.

“He still commentates over old football games with me. And he is actually a really good commentator, and it's great to listen to.” 

The Northern Echo:

The BT Care Home Companions scheme sees BT customer service advisors to chat with residents who might not have anyone to talk to.

New research from BT has revealed more than 41 per cent of over 70s don’t feel fully confident using their mobile despite almost three quarters saying phones improve connections with their family and friends.

BT has vowed to help 25 million people become more familiar with technology by 2026 and have so far helped 14.7 million people.  

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