Found: Long-lost friends of 'Eleanor Rigby' pensioner who had no visitors for five years

Last updated at 13:53 05 January 2008

Olive Archer

A tragic pensioner dubbed "Eleanor Rigby" will not go unmourned at her funeral after all.

When 83-year-old Olive Archer died in a care home, she had no known relatives or friends who could bid her a final farewell.

It echoed the Beatles song in which "nobody came" to Eleanor Rigby's funeral.

But now, after an appeal by a church minister, the Reverend Akasha Lonsdale, more than a dozen people have offered to pay their last respects.

One went to school in Swindon with Miss Archer and some knew her from when was a Co-op cashier. Among them is 75-year-old Derek Benfield, who grew up near her in the 1930s.

She was best friends with his older sister Eileen, who died two years ago. Mr Benfield said: "I remember Olive - she was a very attractive lady - a wonderful person. When she and my sister got together, there was a giggling session."

He said Miss Archer had looked after her parents until they died. "I found it very sad when I read that no one would attend her funeral," he added.

"We all leave something behind, but it looked like Olive had left nothing."

According to one friend, an RAF officer had proposed marriage to Miss Archer, but she declined - possibly because she was still caring for her mother and father.

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Olive Archer


Mr Benfield will give a speech at the funeral at Semington Crematorium, Swindon, on January 14. Other people who have offered to attend the service did not know Miss Archer, but were so moved by her story that they wanted to be there to pay tribute.

Miss Archer had spent five years in a care home in Chippenham, Wiltshire, during which time she did not have a single visitor. She died on December 20 after a suspected stroke.

When Miss Lonsdale realised she and the funeral director would be the only people at the crematorium, she appealed for anyone who knew Miss Archer to come forward.

The minister said: "During her younger years, it is clear Olive enjoyed life and loved dancing.

"By all accounts, she was a very kind person. She was also a private person, but always said hello to people in the street.

"Perhaps as she grew older and had to care for her parents, she just lost the opportunity to get out and socialise. That was a common problem with that generation."

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A genealogist from Vancouver who saw the story on the Internet has began helping research Miss Archer's family background.

And a woman from Chester has offered to send flowers to the funeral service.

Miss Londsale said: "It's wonderful how this story has really touched the lives of others. Now it should be quite a send-off."