A lonely pensioner who put a sign in his window asking for friends has been inundated with a "tsunami" of messages from well-wishers across the globe. © N/ALoneliness: Tony's plea for help answered
Tony Williams lost his wife Jo to pancreatic cancer in May.
He put multiple adverts in the local newspaper and handed out cards with his contact details at the supermarket in a bid to find friends - but none of it worked. © Sky News Screen GrabEsther Rantzen was one of the first to reach out to Mr Williams
On the poster, he said being alone at home was "unbearable torture".
His story was picked up by media outlets around the world - leading to an "overwhelming" flurry of emails, calls and letters.
He told Kay Burley: "I am absolutely bewildered in many ways but so pleased because I have done this for my lovely wife.
"I have also done if for myself to try and get people to talk to me. It's been quite a difficult task but I have cracked it.
"I've been absolutely inundated with calls, emails and now things in the post.
"It's not just the quantity - in fact it's bust my email system, I can't use it now - but it's also the quality.
"The sincerity, the empathy that I have had from all over the world.
"These people really feel my loneliness as their own grief and sometimes I've been reduced to tears."
Tony has had help and support from neighbours and does have some family, including at least one brother, but it is understood he doesn't see them regularly.
One of the first to get in touch was television personality Dame Esther Rantzen.
She founded the charity Silver Line, which offers a 24-hour phone line for lonely older people.
Messages for Tony have come from as far as the US, Canada, Australia, the Middle East, Spain and Iceland.
Tony's isolation has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A poll by the charity Independent Age in May found almost 90% of older people had their social contact reduced significantly during the pandemic.
He added: "One message that sticks in my mind is I had an email from a teacher.
"She said would I mind if the children in her class wrote me letters and condolences and I thought that was absolutely sweet. I got back to her to say 'yes, I would absolutely adore that'.
"I said if and when the letters arrive I will go to the school and talk to the children as I think it's fairly local to me.
"I'm totally overwhelmed by a tsunami of what's been happening over the last few days.
"I'm very, very grateful."
When asked what his advice would be to other pensioners in a similar position, he said: "My advice is to do what I've done.
"Not in necessarily in the same way - but you have somehow go out and meet people.
"I found it nearly impossible to do with this virus.
"I hope the message goes out that you can find a way out of loneliness."
Video: Widower who put sign in window asking for pals leaves people in tears (Birmingham Mail)