Valerie and Don McGregor are among the first residents to move into the brand new apartment scheme, Maynard House, set in the rural Essex countryside.
Downsizing to a modern apartment in the middle of nowhere is probably not the move many people in their mid 70s would consider making. But the McGregors are among a growing army of people who are determined to maximise their retirement years and that doesn’t mean settling for a stereotypical old people’s home.
“Don has had Parkinsons for about 12 years, its more of an inconvenience than anything else, but our friends said why didn’t we adapt our family home, put in a stair lift and make other changes, but we wanted to start afresh,” explained Valerie, 74, who together with Don have moved just 12 miles from their original four bedroom detached in Bishop Stortford.
“We thought about other places but they didn’t appeal as they smacked to us of old people’s homes, or care homes, rather than independent living which we have here.
“Our children found the move more of a wrench than us. Within days of moving in we knew we had done the right thing.”
The key motivation for making the move to a purpose-built retirement village was the experience the couple went through with Don’s own parents who had to be constantly moved, often separately, as their needs changed. This happened over a period of five years.
“It was a terrible time,” recalled Valerie. “We were determined this wouldn’t happen to us and we would have ourselves organised before we reached 80. The beauty of living here is we do have care facilities here too, if we were to need them in the future.”
In addition to the peace of mind of potential support close at hand in the coming years, the couple also chose Maynard House they said because:
- It’s still close enough to maintain their network of friends and pursuits in Bishop Stortford and a little closer to their daughter’s home; it’s also five minutes from the GP surgery and Tesco is four minutes away
- They have a garden (Maynard House is set in six acres of landscaped grounds) but they don’t have to look after it
- There’s potential to make new friends and start new hobbies – as the village grows the couple say they fully expect to make fresh friendships among their new neighbours and help to instigate shared village activities. Quick-witted Don has already been nominated ‘entertainments officer’ by sales consultant Linda McLean!
Don, 78, is a former schoolmaster and senior college lecturer. An active Rotarian, preacher and editor for the local Talking Newspaper for the Blind group, both he and Valerie still attend the Methodist church where they were married. They were both youth club leaders and Valerie, who only retired from a job at a local conference centre last year, is also a keen member of the Inner Wheel.
“This is very much the next chapter of our lives,” explained Don. “We have plenty to keep us busy outside of the village for now but once we start slowing down a little and the car becomes a bit of a burden we know we will have a full life here among a new social circle of friends. It’s an exciting prospect which is nice to be able to say at our stage of life.”