IT'S likely the unwitting effects of the lockdown but I find myself crying at anything these days. Poignancy, everywhere, in the silliest of small things.

Fine one moment, snuffling 'But it's just so nice,' the next. Eyes filling, chin wobbling. Get a grip.

I don't think I would be alone in crying at the sight of June Crawford and Ella Boyle though. It would, rather, take a fairly steely demeanour to stay unaffected by the two friends' joy at being reunited for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The two women, both in their 90s, have been friends for 60 years and were neighbours until Mrs Boyle moved into a care home in Greenock, Inverclyde.

STV News was allowed in to the care home to film the moment Mrs Boyle saw her friend again. Thanks to a new testing scheme, Mrs Crawford was able to be tested for coronavirus and, once she had the all clear, visit her chum.

The video captures the slight pause in Mrs Boyle, a hesitation, before her friend tells her everything is alright and they embrace. Imagine, after months of living with the knowledge that human contact is dangerous, to be able to hug again.

And what a beautiful illustration of the power of friendship. "Do you want to know my biggest fear?” said June. “That she wouldn’t survive it. I’ve had to do a lot over the phone, just egging her on."

It's not an over egging to say that friendship is key to surviving, not only through hard times but through all of life.

Study upon study upon study show the benefits of strong friendships and of valuing and nurturing those friendships. Health and happiness - both are reported in higher quantities in those who have supportive friends. Research has also found that family, spouses and children have a lesser effect on health and wellbeing than friends.

Friendships are often ranked as more important to us than family, career or money.

Part of this is the choice element of friendship. We can't choose our family - or how stressful they can make life - but we can choose our friends.

At the same time, with friendship there is no formalised relationship, no contract to enter into, no ceremony, no document to sign.

And so friends can also choose to opt out of the deal. Anyone who's been through a sudden severance knows that it can be just as, or more so, traumatic than the end of a romantic partnership.

Friendships are life altering and vital. They can last much longer than a marriage and have all the emotional importance.

Yet we don't treat friendship with the same reverence we do intimate partnerships.

It's quite accepted that, no matter the length of the friendship, once a romantic bond is formed, friends drop down the pecking order.

At anything of an official nature, blood relations take precedence over friendship.

When a relative is or there is a family emergency, sympathy is immediate and absolute but when a friend is affected, often there need to be caveats and explanations, emphasis of the enduring years of the friendship, of your closeness.

I was thrilled to become a godmother to my friend's son as much as anything because the honour formalised my place in their lives. I'd felt like family but now I was really family.

But, of course, feeling like a friend should hold the same value as feeling like family.

If June and Ella were a marriage they would receive a card from the Queen to mark their 60 years together.

A friendship of so many decades takes work, emotional intimacy and arguably more effort to keep it together. With husbands or wives, children and work, friends sink down the priority list for nothing more than reasons of time.

How often, as we get older, do we say, "We must catch up," then never quite manage to?

We know that friendship is as valuable as romance because we feel it, we benefit from it each day. Like June and Ella, we should honour it.