Real Life

Time To Say Thank You: How one call to his local supermarket changed this 98-year-old great grandad’s life forever

''He knows what I need.''
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They say all it takes is one kind gesture to make a world of difference to someone’s life.

Just ask 98-year-old great grandad Des Bell, who credits a phone call he made to his local supermarket as the best thing he’s done in a very long time.

“We were on the eve of entering our first COVID lockdown back in March 2020. I live on my own, have no family in Victoria, and I don’t have the internet.

“I was worried I might not be able to get my groceries safely while we were under such tight restrictions,” Des tells Woman’s Day from his home in Melbourne’s east.

Drew still delivers Des’ groceries

“A lovely young man named Drew took my call and was so kind. He said he would make sure I got what I needed – even if he delivered my order himself.

“And blow me down, that’s exactly what he did!”

At the end of the line that day at the nearby Eastland Coles was store support manager Drew Law, who at 27 prides himself on always going above and beyond the call of duty.

“Des, like so many of our elderly customers, was rightly concerned,” recalls Drew.

“I dropped off his order after work, and the moment he opened the front door and thanked me with tears in his eyes… I knew we’d be mates for life.”

After losing his beloved long-time partner Raye three years ago, Des, who played first grade for his beloved Melbourne Demons in the VFL during the 1940s, will never forget the extraordinary kindness he’s been shown this past year.

“Drew is a special fella – he’s going to end up running the whole show for Coles!” says the retired marketing manager with a cheeky smile.

The special connection between the two is still going strong more than 16 months later.

“Drew still delivers my groceries a year on with the ongoing lockdowns. He pays for the order, and I pay him back to the cent!” says Des.

“He even knows what I need off by heart. Lots of fruit and vegetables, Weet-Bix for my breakfast, nuts, chicken and fish, and the occasional steak.

“You don’t get to be 98 years old and be this healthy and active by eating rubbish!”

In March, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp announced Drew was one of three COVID-19 community heroes to be honoured during the city’s popular Moomba Festival.

“Despite the 71 years age difference, we chat about everything from footy to politics – it’s remarkable!” says Des. Photos were taken before current lockdown

(Credit: Phillip Castleton/Are Media)

“It was such a privilege, especially since I was nominated by Coles. I started working for them when I was in Grade 10, and I want to stay with them until I retire!” Drew tells.

“I don’t do my job for recognition – I do it because I love making a difference to people’s lives.”

When Woman’s Day caught up with the pair over a cup of tea, it’s not hard to see why these unlikely mates hit it off from day one.

“Plenty of old folk want to criticise young people, but not me.

“I have a wonderful family, but they’re scattered all over the world, so Drew has become more like a grandson to me,” Des says with a little tear in his eye.

Drew admits the best advice he’s been offered from his mentor and role model is to always take wonderful care of your family.

“I’ve been married to my beautiful Emily for three years, and we’re expecting a little baby boy in November,” says Drew with a smile.

Drew has been applauded for his efforts during the lockdown Photos were taken before current lockdown

(Credit: Phillip Castleton/Are Media)

“Des lost his loving partner a few years back, and I often hear him speaking to his grandkids. He’s a man of honour and decency.

“Des may want to thank me, but I want him to know how much he means to me… thank you too Des for being my friend.”

Apart from Des, Drew’s biggest fan and supporter is his loving wife Emily.

“During the lockdowns, Drew worked around the clock. He really stepped up, and while he came home every day exhausted, he never stopped smiling,” she tells Woman’s Day.

“He has incredible empathy and loves older folk. I always know when he’s been to see Des because he relays every word they chatted about!”

To her delight, Emily has also got to know Des well.

“Des will always be more than a friend to us – his sage advice over this past year has really impacted us in the best possible way. It’s a joy having him in our lives.

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