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Moving to Debden Grange, Christine Johnson

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In 1997 my husband Alan and I moved to a large house in Newport, we had many happy years there and it was big enough to have family to stay with us at Christmas and the grandchildren to be with us during school holidays.

In 2017 Alan died after a short illness and my life fell apart. Over the years we kept the house and garden in good order but once Alan was not with me keeping the house in order and finding the appropriate workmen was sometimes impossible and I certainly did not want my property to deteriorate.

During this period Debden Grange was partially finished and whilst shopping in Saffron Walden, I had a very tentative look in the sales office. The model village looked very interesting and decided to look at the Show House with my daughters. Even though the cottage was very spacious and comfortable with a very high-end finish, I must admit I found it difficult to make a decision to leave my home which I shared with Alan for 20 years to downsize, but knew it was inevitable as I may need help as I got older. I did take the plunge and made a decision and although it was hard to get my head around it at first, I did know deep down it was the best thing for me and my new stage of life.

I moved into Debden Grange in June 2020 (after my first moving date in March was rearranged due to the start of lockdown) I have never regretted this decision and knowing that in any emergency there is help as the staff are very caring and supportive and are always available when needed.

We have a wonderful clubhouse where we tend to congregate for coffee in the morning and there is always someone to talk to if you wish. There is a vibrant community here together with a caring staff and I feel happy and content living in Debden Grange. I have made lots of new friends and you can choose to meet friends or spend a day on your own – you can still live life how you want to despite having more of a network closer to you than you have been used to. We have an excellent restaurant and bar here too which is open to non-residents, and many people from Newport and surrounding villages dine here regularly.

Recently we even had a visit from Angela Rippon who hosted a roundtable discussing the concept of retirement villages and the Later Living Sector which has a vital role within the community – I was lucky, along with my fellow resident Pauline McKenzie, to be invited to join this lively discussion. We highlighted how Debden Grange is a retirement village and not a care home (as it is sometimes incorrectly perceived) and is an astonishing place to live and thrive. You can be totally independent, live as you choose, close your front door if you wish but with the benefits. Residents are never lonely, there is always extra help available, and Debden Grange has wonderful facilities. It is not full of call alarms, red buttons, and grab rails. The Club House is well designed and appropriate for the community with a restaurant and bar. We have a library which is in constant use with various activities and a shop together with a bowling green.

We now have a post office in Debden Grange which is open on Wednesday and Thursday 9am to 12 noon used by people in Newport and surrounding villages. Many people who use the Post Office end up staying for coffee.

A few weeks ago we had a fantastic afternoon celebrating the end of lockdown with family and friends. There was live music and a bbq and it really was special seeing how our community has grown over the last year, there were a lot of smiling happy faces. I would certainly recommend living in a retirement village, I never feel alone and my family has the assurance there is always help available.

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