French pensioner and UK student's lockdown friendship

Lockdowns have upended lives across the world.

But for 98 year-old French woman Jacqueline Tolu, and 20 year-old British student Elliot Bellman, the global health crisis has also created an unlikely friendship.

Tolu has endured isolation in her care home near Paris due to restricted visitors.

While Bellman's plans to visit France this year as part of his studies were quashed by lockdown measures.

For six months now, the pair have been chatting weekly over Skype.

Brought together by a scheme called Shareami that pairs elderly people with language students.

"....When I was asked if I would like to be linked up with another person, boy or girl, who wants to improve their French through conversation, I accepted as it would bring me great pleasure."

The opportunity alleviated Tolu's loneliness - and brought Bellman, a third-year Warwick University student, an opportunity to practise his French.

But the pair also really hit it off.

"I was nervous, meeting a new person, a completely different generation, different culture, different language, obviously, so it's nerve-wracking, and thinking, maybe we don't get on, maybe she doesn't like me, maybe that generational gap would be too much...But as soon as I started talking to her, she's very easy to talk to, she's very funny, she just keeps the conversation going so easily."

Every Monday - Bellman dials in from his parents' home in southern England, Tolu from her wheelchair at the care home in Bonneuil-sur-Marne.

This time, Tolu told of her experience living through the 1944 Allied D-Day invasion on the Normandy landing beaches.

"...Thinking back, oh my goodness, how did I manage to live through that, I was so scared."

Tolu said their chats give her a mental escape from the confines of the care home for a little while, every week.