Coronavirus: Hampstead ‘saint’, 16, leads community relief and delivers fresh fruit to self-isolating nuns
- Credit: Allegra Di Borgoricco
A 16-year-old “saint” is driving Hampstead’s community response to coronavirus by delivering fresh fruit to self-isolating nuns.
Nicolo Di Borgoricco, from Frogal Lane, joined the Hampstead Volunteer Corps (HVC) using his mum’s phone and now leads by example, coordinating community aid by ringing the elderly and delivering daily drops to and from convents, pharmacies, hospitals, retirement homes and people’s houses.
The inspirational teenager, who sprung into action after seeing his own grandparents struggle in Italy, has also set up a Facebook group to identify NW3’s most vulnerable.
“The smiles on people’s faces at the end makes it all worth it,” Nicolo said.
“But it’s also very sad because sometimes you see these very old people lugging their shopping upstairs, so I’m just glad I can help out.”
One of Nicolo’s most fruitful jobs is delivering bananas and oranges to two nuns who are self-isolating at St Dorothy’s Convent in Frognal.
Nicolo said: “I phoned them up and asked if they needed anything.
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“They said they needed fresh fruit so that’s what I bring them every week.”
Sister Paula Agoftinho, 60, said she and Sister Tessie Zammit, 73, are indebted to the Hampstead teen.
“We are a bit afraid and concerned at the moment, so this help from Nicolo was really nice,” Paula said.
“I think it’s an experience that he cannot forget and that will stay with him for the future.”
Nicolo added: “The nuns were really grateful and gave me an Easter card to say thank you.
“It’s really inspiring to see them in such great spirits.”
Henderson Court retirement home in Fitzjohn’s Avenue and the Royal Free Hospital are just two beneficiaries of Nicolo’s brilliant work - among tens of local homes who now know him as their go-to guy.
However, finding the right opportunity to volunteer as a 16-year-old can be difficult, Nicolo said.
That’s why when he received a flier through the door for HVC – which he calls a “fantastic, tight-knit group”, and that now has more than 600 helpers – Nicolo jumped at the opportunity to dive straight into action.
Kate Sellars, HVC team captain, said Nicolo, the group’s youngest recruit, had gone above and beyond.
“We’ve got all these older people on our team and then up pops this 16-year-old who’s full of life,” she said.
“To have a 16-year-old that isn’t playing video games all day, who’s doing something to help instead, is remarkable.
“There is no end to this guy’s sainthood and selflessness.
“I call him our selfless teenager because, let’s face it, it’s not often you get a selfless teen. He’s been a real gem.”
Kate said Nicolo was an “exemplary example of a human being at such a young age”.
She added: “He is my number one local hero.
“Being around so many community residents that are doing so much good, he has completely stood out with his energy, enthusiasm and selflessness.
“He’s my number one at the moment and he’s definitely getting the gold star.”
Nicolo’s mum Allegra said she was so “proud” of her son.
“It’s sweet as well because I see him going out, he’s got his mask and gloves on – he’s on a mission,” she said.
“He runs around from each pharmacy, to Boots, to the elderly ladies, to people’s homes across the area.
“Sometimes when I go out for a family shop he says ‘can you sneak in some of the yoghurts that the nuns like?’
“So we are sharing this difficult moment in a beautiful way.”