The last year has a been difficult and troubling for us all, but one Cardiff grandmother’s positive outlook on life, even at the darkest of times, is proving the sort of message we need to hear.
Mary Ronald, from Splott, has gone viral and was even interviewed by Greg James on Radio 1 after appearing in a local television station’s news bulletin.
The clip of the gran, who turns 84 on Friday, being filmed for ITV Wales in a feature on the meals and wheels service in the city was shared online thousands of times.
Volunteers, who run the service, deliver food to the vulnerable and elderly – which has proved to be a vital service during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.
Mary has been using the service throughout lockdown and cannot praise enough the volunteers who deliver to her door three times a week.
She told reporter Rob Osborne: “It’s a life saver love! And the girls are wonderful I don’t know what we’d do without them. The loneliness we’ve had for months – without them, I don’t think I could go on.
“It’s been very lonely on my own love. I watch my tele and I praise them in the church all the time.
“I’m waiting for this vaccine now hoping that will do some good. I’ve never known it so bad”.
The interview got picked up by Greg James and his breakfast show team which lead to Mary and grandson being on the show that is listened to by millions earlier this week.
She has also been invited to spread her positive approach on Good Morning Britain.
The Radio 1 DJ described her as “incredible” and told Mary she reminded him of his own grandmother who is originally from Merthyr.
He said to her: “You are a proper megastar.”
WalesOnline went to meet Mary to find out how she was coping with her new found fame and what her hopes for the future are, including raising money for the Moorland Centre which provides the meals on wheels service.
A justgiving page in Mary’s name has already raised more than £1,000 for the service.
“It is like a dream, they came, I just answered them and I never thought we would get the reception we got and it is getting better and better,” said Mary. “As long as it is doing good for the centre, that is the main thing.”
Speaking about how she deals with every day in lockdown. Mary says: “You have to make the most of it. I listen to my music, and I watch my television, I loves my Coronation Street. I like all music, and it helps me to get every day done.
“I find it is getting easier and easier. I keep thinking to myself that it won’t be long, I hope we will be out of lockdown and get back to normal.”
We spoke to Mary just before she had her first vaccination on Wednesday, she said: “I am a bit nervous because I am a bit scared of the needle, but so long as I don’t see it, I am fine, I am fine.”
Mary does miss her family, but they phone every day and daughter Audrey brings a special meal on a Sunday.
“We all can’t go out,” she added. “One lives in Newport, one in Ely and one in Llanrumney. They are far away from me, but I manage and they phone me every day so at least I know they are alright.”
Mary, who is originally from Cork, moved to Cardiff in the 1950s and says: “During the war, I grew up as a child in Ireland. I was five or six when the war finished and I remember rationing and you could only have one piece of bread a day. It was bad, and this is getting nearly as bad, but we survived.”
Speaking about people working in the NHS, she said: “I count myself lucky that we are getting our food. My heart goes out to everyone in the NHS. I would love to see everyone happy and no bad things going on.”
And the final word from Mary?
“I think to myself, you have got to think positive. It is no good going to bed wondering if you are going to get up in the morning. You can’t think to live like that,” she smiled. “You just have to get up and thank God for another day.
“That is the way I have lived my life I take very day as it comes and I love life.”