A 94-year-old man had a tear-jerking reaction to a pillow printed with his late wife’s face that his carer made

A World War II veteran burst into tears after he was surprised with a pillow of his late wife's face.

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A World War II veteran burst into tears after he was surprised with a pillow of his late wife’s face.
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Thistleton Lodge
  • World War II veteran Ken Benbow has captured the world’s heart after a video showed him bursting into tears when his carer gave him a pillow with his late wife’s photo.
  • Benbow, 94, told Insider that he and Ada fell in love on the dance floor in 1946 and were married for 71 years.
  • After Ada died last year, Benbow began sleeping with her framed photo every night in his room at the Thistleton Lodge nursing home in England.
  • So Kia Mariah Tobin, one of Benbow’s care workers, decided to surprise him with a pillow of the photo instead.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Ever since he lost his wife Ada last year, Ken Benbow has slept with a framed photo of her clutched to his chest every single night.

Kia Mariah Tobin, one of Benbow’s care workers at the Thistleton Lodge nursing home in Preston, England, worried that the 94-year-old Benbow could accidentally hurt himself with the frame. Then, she had a brilliant idea.

Tobin had the photo of Ada made into a pillow, which she gave Benbow earlier this week. The touching video of her sweet surprise was posted on social media, where it has since racked up millions of views.

So Insider reached out to Benbow to find out the beautiful love story behind his and Ada’s 71-year-marriage, and why he’s so grateful for Tobin’s gift.

Benbow met Ada shortly after he returned to England following the end of World War II

Benbow met Ada shortly after returning to the UK following the end of World War II.

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Benbow met Ada shortly after returning to the UK following the end of World War II.
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Ken Benbow

He had joined the Royal Navy in 1943, traveling everywhere from Italy and Australia to the Philippines and Japan. He was at Normandy on D-Day, part of the largest seaborne invasion in history.

But Benbow was listless when he returned to his small English town in 1946, 10 months after the war ended. There were no jobs to be found, and no entertainment. Benbow had loved going to dances.

So his aunt invited the veteran to come live with her family in Liverpool. It was just two weeks later that he met his lifelong dance partner.

“I went to a dance and I met my darling Ada,” he told Insider. “Oh how we used to dance. I used to fling her over my shoulders, and between my legs!”

Benbow was immediately enraptured. It was love at first sight.

Benbow and Ada were married for 71 years before she died last August.

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Benbow and Ada were married for 71 years before she died last August.
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Ken Benbow

“She was beautiful, she was caring, she was loving,” he said. “She was wonderful.”

Looking back, Benbow told Insider his only regret is that he didn’t spend more time with Ada in the early years of their marriage.

“I was a bus driver and at night I used to meet my bus driving friends and go to the pub for a couple of pints, and I left my darling at home with our two children,” he said. “I should have always been with her and I regret that.”

But Benbow is also grateful for their many years of memories, including the summers they used to spend in their son’s villa in southern France.

“I loved everything she did,” he said. “She did everything for me.”

The couple had many happy decades together

Benbow served in the Royal Navy during World War II.

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Benbow served in the Royal Navy during World War II.
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Ken Benbow

When Ada got dementia, they hired a carer, but Benbow still insisted on doing whatever he could for the love of his life.

“I did everything except the cleaning!” Benbow said with a laugh. “I used to do the shopping, the cooking, the ironing, all the beds. I was doing all the meals, which I loved doing for my wife – and it was my job to do it!”

“So when the carer used to come at night, there was nothing for her to do. But we had her come because we liked the companionship.”

But last year Benbow began struggling to stay steady on his legs, and his children begged their mother and father to enter a nursing home

The couple refused, at first. But then Benbow and Ada agreed to stay at Thistleton Lodge for a two-week trial, and ended up loving the care home and its caring staff.

“It was lovely,” he said. “We were very happy.”

But Ada’s dementia continued to progress. She died last August at the age of 93.

The funeral director gave Benbow a framed photo of Ada, which he began taking to bed every night

“I’d have it on my chest and we’d have a talk before I go to sleep,” he said.

Tobin noticed Benbow was sleeping with the photo, and told him she was worried that he could accidentally cut himself on the frame. She later snuck into Benbow’s room and took a photo of Ada’s picture, which she then had created into the pillow.

Tobin is seen here clutching the pillow with Ada's face before surprising Benbow.

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Tobin is seen here clutching the pillow with Ada’s face before surprising Benbow.
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Thistleton Lodge

She walked into Benbow’s room, holding the pillow to her chest before the big reveal.

“I got you a present!” Tobin can be heard telling Benbow in the video of their surprise.

“What’s that darling?” he asks.

Then Tobin flips the pillow over as she hands it to him, revealing Ada’s smiling face.

A huge smile spread across Benbow's face when he first saw the pillow with Ada's picture.

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A huge smile spread across Benbow’s face when he first saw the pillow with Ada’s picture.
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Thistleton Lodge

“Hah!” Benbow exclaims happily, taking the pillow into both of his hands as he admires his late wife once again.

Benbow then clutches the pillow to his chest and gives it a big hug, suddenly bursting into tears.

Then Benbow broke into tears as he embraced the pillow.

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Then Benbow broke into tears as he embraced the pillow.
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Ken Benbow

“Awww!” Tobin says, running over to embrace him.

“Oh darling,” Benbow says as he stares at the pillow, giving it a few kisses.

Benbow proudly shows off the pillow with Ada's face.

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Benbow proudly shows off the pillow with Ada’s face.
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Thistleton Lodge

“I thought that might be a bit better than your photograph,” Tobin tells him as Benbow grabs her hand.

“Come here!” he says, pulling her in for another hug.

Benbow and Tobin embrace after she surprises him with the pillow.

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Benbow and Tobin embrace after she surprises him with the pillow.
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Thistleton Lodge

The framed picture of Ada now stays on Benbow’s nightstand, and it’s the pillow that he embraces as he drifts off to sleep every night

“It’s so soft and such a big picture of her,” he said. “It’s nearly as big as the real thing.”

“And I’ll never let her go.”