Watch: The lonely pensioner who put poster in window asking for friends
A pensioner who posted a plea for company after his wife died has been inundated with thousands of calls and emails from strangers offering friendship.
Tony Williams, 75, received so many emails that his inbox crashed and he has had hundreds of phone calls from new friends around the world.
People from America, Germany, Holland, Australia, Egypt, India and Japan have contacted Tony to invite him on everything from road trips in America to an afternoon drinking G&Ts.
Others have offered Tony, a retired physicist, lunches, phone calls, and for their kids to adopt him as a grandfather.
Tony, from Alton, East Hampshire, said: "The love and compassion people have shown has actually brought tears to my eyes.
"People have sent me the most delightful emails.
"They've sent me pictures of their kids, their pets, told me about their aspirations and telling me they are thinking of me.
"I got an email from a local teacher asking if children in her class could write me letters.
"I got in touch with her straight away and said it would be delightful. I would love that.
Tony and late wife Jo moved to near Alton, last year so Jo could be closer to her sister, Beryl, 73.
But Tony was left lonely after Jo, 75, died in May, just nine days after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
"People have been phone from Canada and the States,” he said.
"One lady phoned up and said if I get on a plane sometime she would pick me up and show me her area of Florida.
"Another lady who lives relatively nearby has invited me round for a G&T which I'll be keen to do.
"I've had others reach out from Germany, Holland, Australia, Egypt, India and Japan.
"It's just been gorgeous.”
Tony said the emails began to come in “thick and fast” at a rate of four or five a minute, but he now can’t respond as his accont crashed.
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"A red message came up saying there was some sort of error and it needs to be reset,” he said.
Tony and Jo were unable to have children and he said after her death he often sat at home willing the phone to ring - "but it never does" - and he said he felt "cursed" by loneliness.
Without any family nearby, Tony put two adverts in his local newspaper looking for a friend to talk to, but didn't get any replies.
In a bid to find a pal to listen to music with, or just chat in the garden, Tony had business cards made, to hand out when he went to the supermarket or out for a walk.
He handed out dozens without receiving a call back, so decided to put a poster up in his window asking for friends.
But now, after spending a summer "waiting for the phone to ring", Tony has been swamped by responses.
He is enjoying chatting on the phone to strangers - now friends - from around the world, and plans to meet up with his new pals once COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.
"I've just been completely overwhelmed and am so thankful for it all," he said.
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