Joy as elderly couple of 70 years are reunited after social services u-turn

AN elderly couple who barely spent a day apart since they met in 1946 have had an emotional reunion after they were separated by social services.

Ray Lorrison, 95, was thrilled and said “I could jump over the moon” when his wife Jessie, 88, arrived at Westoe Grange Care Home in South Shields, South Tyneside, after a separation of seven weeks.

The pair had been together almost constantly for 70 years and were devastated when they were told Jessie would not be able to join Ray in the home because she did not meet the criteria.

The Northern Echo: Jessie and Ray Lorrison finally been reunited at Westoe Grange Care Home in South Shields Picture: NORTH NEWS

But after an extensive social media campaign undertaken by Jessie and Ray’s family and friends South Tyneside Council have done a U-turn and the pensioners have been reunited.

Cheryl Bates, the couple’s 60-year-old daughter, said: “It was so emotional. All the staff at the home burst into tears.

“They were both overjoyed to be back together. My dad has been agitated and unhappy since they were split up, but he’s calmed down now. It is lovely to see.”

Cheryl said that the pair had been eating cake and drinking tea together after the reunion, and were spending the afternoon side by side watching ITV’s Judge Rinder.

Ray, who was a cook in the Merchant Navy and a coal miner, and Jessie, a shop manager, met in the 1940s.

They went on to have three children – Gary, 64, Cheryl and Debra, 49 – and they spent over 60 happy years living together in Marsden, South Shields.

It was not until Jessie was rushed to South Tyneside Hospital nine weeks ago after a fall, that they were separated from each other.

She had cared for Ray, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and so the decision was made for him to stay at the home while she recovered.

However, it was deemed Jessie was no longer in a fit state to look after Ray once she was released from hospital.

The council decided Jessie would return to the home she’d shared with Ray, while her husband would remain at Westoe Grange.

Ray became very distressed without his companion, and their family launched an online petition, which garnered 21,000 signatures, to get them reunited.

Just three days later the council announced that Jessie would be able to move into the home with Ray after all.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “The assessment process has now been completed and the lady will be placed in the same residential home as her husband.

“Although she is no longer able to live independently we are pleased that at least the couple will be able to stay together.”