FOR more than a year, Ernie Pohlman has had the benefit of visits from a special friend.
When the 85-year-old came out of hospital, "friend" Lyn Harwood started to come to his Tweed Heads home to keep him company.
Ernie is a leukaemia sufferer and lives alone.
He's feeling much better now that Lyn makes her weekly visits.
"She comes along for a chat and cup of tea," he said.
"We might go through some old photos.
"They've involved me in the Red Cross Christmas party.
"We sort of clicked all round."
Ernie was the first client in his area to benefit from the Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) auspiced by the Red Cross.
There are now 15 visitors with the same number of elderly clients.
Lyn visits Ernie for about two-and-a-half hours on Thursdays.
"Some days we don't feel like doing much. We just chat and put the world to rights," she said.
"It's really worthwhile because you get a lot out of it. You make a new friend."
CVS co-ordinator Jane Wells said most volunteers were newly retired and the minimum requirement for a visit was only an hour a week.
"What we look for is someone who is genuinely interested in older people, in their lives," she said.
Ernie, known as a "local legend" after almost 50 years in the same house, has handed his moniker on to his regular visitor, Lyn.
"She's a 'local legend' now too," Jane said.
If readers would like to volunteer, they can do so via http://www.redcross.org.
If readers would like to sign on to receive a visit from Red Cross, they can do so by contacting Jane at 07 5524 5799 or email@example.com.
To be eligible they need to be receiving a Home Care package but, if not, there may be another scheme they fall under.