Sylvester Harker recently took over as Village Manager at Avonpark, so we thought we would have a chat with him to find out how he is enjoying working in our community and what he likes about his new job.
Tell us how you came to work in the care sector and why it is important to you?
My previous experience in hotels, restaurants and hospitality lent itself to apply for the Village Manager role.
What attracted you to Retirement Villages?
I was attracted to Retirement Villages because I wanted to work for and be part of a large company that feels like a small company, which is continually growing and developing.
Did you start as village manager or work your way up internally?
I joined Retirement Villages as Village Manager.
What skills or experience do you have that lends itself well to your role as village manager?
As mentioned above my hospitality experience and people skills lend themselves well in the retirement village environment, as well as to the development and improvement of food menus in the restaurant.
Describe your role in a nutshell?
To ensure all residents are happy, comfortable, receive support if they need it and enjoy village life independently.
What do you enjoy about your role?
Working with the residents, no day is the same.
How do you work with residents to ensure that issues of interest or concern to them are addressed?
I have an open door policy, so I have conversations with them daily. But we have residents meetings to discuss interests or concerns regularly.
How do you work to ensure transparency and harmony between the residents and Retirement Villages’ senior management?
Communication between residents and myself is key to keep them up to date. I am also completely transparent with information (e.g. accounts or works).
Tell us about your staff and how they support you?
I have a great team at Avonpark with lots of experience. They make my job easier because of the lengths they go to ensure residents’ needs are met.
What are the main benefits you feel residents gain from living within your community?
The opportunity to live independent, healthy, active lifestyles with the safety net of knowing their belongings and assets are in safe hands.
How do the residents help create a lively social scene within the village?
Our residents run and manage various well-attended activities throughout our village. These include concerts, art sessions, talks, coffee mornings or a tipple in the bar after dinner.
Which are your most popular events or activities?
Our most popular activities are the film club, concerts, painting classes and our annual ‘Pimms and Strings’ event.
What stands your village apart from the Retirement Villages’ bunch?
The location! On top of Winsley hill overlooking the Avon Valley.
Tell us a little about you personally:
I live in Gloucestershire and have two children, a boy of three and a girl of five. They are settled in schools so hence the distance. My wife is an HR team member with my previous company in hotels and restaurants management and we have been married for six years.
My hobbies include playing all kinds of sport, golf and football being the favourites. I was born in South Africa and moved to the UK after I finished my studies. I started out as a chef and worked my way up to my previous position as general manager for a hotel and restaurants company.