A BIG-HEARTED schoolgirl has become a care home’s youngest volunteer, dedicating her time after school to befriending residents...at the tender age of just ten.

Lilly-Ella East, of Clacton, has been a friend of Corner Lodge, in Jaywick, for years, visiting with mum Gemma, East who is the home’s administrator for six years.

But it is only now Lilly-Ella has now started to make the weekly visits on her own.

Until recently, pupils from Clacton Coastal Academy visited the care home as part of a community outreach programme.

When it ended, Mrs East realised the residents missed the interaction with young people.

She said: “I happened to be talking to Lilly-Ella about it, so she offered to come in and absolutely loved it.

“This week was her second trip and it’s so rewarding for her, she said it makes her day.

“Lilly-Ella knows the residents have dementia and what it involves, and how some of them can react, but the majority of them love children.

“Their faces light up when they see her – especially Margaret who she plays Connect Four with. The pair of them become quite competitive and when Lilly-Ella loses, she says she let her win.

“Then when I tell her it’s time to leave, she doesn’t want to.”

It is hoped the Holland Haven Primary School pupil’s influence will encourage other schools to do the same to give students new life experiences and skills.

For details, call Gemma East at Corner Lodge on 01255 220228.