A woman instrumental in bringing to life the ghostly legends of Hastings has struck up a friendship with a prisoner on Death Row in the USA.
Tina Brown, who set up the Old Town Ghost Walks in 1992 under the name Haunted Experiences, and retired in 2015, appeared on ITV’s This Morning last Wednesday (April 5) with hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby to talk about how she became pen pals with Joel, an inmate from Florida.
She said a charity, called Lifelines Ireland, put her in touch with him last year.
Tina added: “We share common interests, both have tattoos, and talk about ghosts, travel and also love talking about everyday things. I’m often asked what I write about to Joel. My reply is simple, we talk about things that you would chat about with any other friend. Joel is serving a death sentence for a shooting 15 years ago. However, I’m not interested in the crime. I’m more interested in offering my support and friendship to someone who did or didn’t do something wrong and has to spend the rest of his life in jail for.”
Speaking on This Morning, Tina said her pen pal does not discuss why he is in prison.
She added: “When I wrote to him in the beginning he responded really quickly. It was a really nice surprise to see this letter come through.”
Tina said she believed her letters to Joel served as an ‘access to the outside world’ to him.
Speaking on This Morning, she said: “He has a sister but no one else. Receiving my letters takes his mind off his time inside. It’s nice to think that just writing a simple letter brings so much support and happiness to somebody.”
Tina described her experience on This Morning as a ‘brilliant way’ to discuss her friendship with Joel and to get more people thinking and understanding the values of letter writing.
Her partner also writes to a pen pal on Death Row, William, who is a Vietnam War veteran.
She said: “I recognise that many associated Death Row friendships are often romantic. However, this is not the case with the pen pals my partner and I have but we are keen to encourage more people to take up this worthwhile activity. We offer our pen pals valuable support at a time when they most need it. Joel has also taken up art again, a passion he once had and has sent me a couple of items of his work.”
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