Shirley Macdonald is blind.

She doesn't "feel like she is blind" but when Covid-19 put the country into lockdown Macdonald started to feel the weight of her impaired sight.

Stuck in her retirement village room, unable to eat outside of it, and with no one visiting, Macdonald started to feel blue.

"Just in the last two weeks, I just started to feel just a bit depressed."


But there was a light and it came in the form of Lauren Scullin.

For two and a half years, the 17-year-old has been reading to Macdonald every Saturday.

"Reading to Shirley has really been an amazing part of my life," Lauren said.

While it started off as an act of service for Lauren to receive her Duke of Edinburgh Award, the pair have formed a strong friendship.

So when the pair were forced apart by lockdown, they found a way to keep up the connection.

When lockdown first began, Lauren said her first thought was Macdonald.

"I didn't want to stop going but of course it is a retirement village which is even worse," Lauren said.

For a moment, Lauren thought it would be easy enough to read through the window, but the more sensible option was to read over the phone.


So it was quickly arranged for a book to be dropped off to Lauren from Macdonald's own collection.

"But we finished that book so I just picked up one of my books at home, but we finished that one too."

The pair spend half an hour on the phone each Saturday. It is so important to them both, Macdonald has told her friends and relatives no one can ring or visit in that time.

Macdonald does have audiobooks she can listen to however she said the books Lauren read, many of which are biographies of influential New Zealanders, allowed her to reminisce on the times when she was younger.

"It just opens another door," Macdonald said.

That small moment every week, "certainly" wasn't boring, Macdonald said. She explains how easy it was to lie on her bed with Lauren's voice ringing out of the phone.


"The time went so quickly.

"[Lockdown] was not good, and Saturday was one of my brighter days."