Resident says retirement village life provides independence, safety and security
Meet Hannah Start, 87, who moved to Mayford Grange in 2010.
Hannah is known as one of the village’s most active residents. She runs the popular book club and is a member of Mayford Grange’s Residents Committee. One of Hannah’s roles is to meet and greet new residents when they move in to make them feel at home.
“Living at Mayford Grange gives me a sense of independence,”
“I have a car, which I use to come and go as I please. I may go shopping, take a trip to Moorcroft Community Centre in nearby Westfield, or have lunch with friends or family at one of the excellent pubs dotted around the local area.”
Staff and residents at Mayford Grange can also find Hannah enjoying coffee in the clubhouse, or signing up for the local community centre’s outings to destinations such as Eastbourne.
“There is plenty to get involved with here but no pressure, you are free to do as much or as little as you wish. Personally, I enjoy the speaker visits, which involve discussions on all manner of topics. I find these very interesting.”
Born in London, Hannah was just a girl when the Second World War began. At the time she was attending boarding school in Skipton, Yorkshire. However, she pitched in like everyone else by helping to thread camouflage nets. During the war Hannah sadly lost her father, who was killed in an air raid in London.
When World War II ended Hannah moved back to the capital. She worked at Harrods as a shop worker and ran a playgroup before pursuing an administration and secretarial career at Midland Bank (now part of HSBC), where her father used to be employed.
Here she met Jeff, the man who was to become her husband. They married, moved into the top floor of her mother’s house and had three children, a son and two daughters. Eventually they bought a property in Balham, South London.
When the children grew up and left, the couple decided they wanted a change of pace and more living space, so moved to Knaphill, a quiet village in Surrey.
“We purchased a lovely white cottage with outdoor grounds, which allowed me to indulge my passion for gardening,” Hannah commented. “Jeff turned one of the rooms in the property into his own space to listen to music. It was tranquil and we lived there happily for 25 years.”
However, as the couple grew older Jeff became very ill and sadly passed away in Woking Hospice. This was obviously a difficult and emotional time for Hannah. She didn’t want to stay in her and her late husband’s cottage on her own, so after catching sight of a leaflet advertising Mayford Grange decided to arrange a visit.
Hannah explained: “I went to have a look round with my niece and daughters. We loved what we saw, especially the spacious and well-presented apartments, so I decided to make the move.
“The property I purchased is on the ground floor, so very easy for me to access. It has a second bedroom, which I use as a workroom for sewing and my PC, as well as a little garden where I grow lavender and penstemon. My apartment also overlooks the adjacent golf course; in the morning it is absolutely lovely.”
In the summer Hannah and her neighbours open their back doors and sit out on their patios to enjoy the sun, perhaps with a glass of bubbles. Next week is Hannah’s birthday and she is planning an Italian meal at a local restaurant with her family.
One of the benefits of living in a retirement village is access to practical care services, which Hannah has grown to appreciate. She said:
“When I first moved in I had a hip operation and staff at Mayford Grange helped me to recover, providing first class living assistance services and regularly coming round to check on me. I felt like I was in safe hands!”
Over the years Hannah has developed atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. So she now receives help with domestic chores such as making her bed and cleaning.
Hannah also wears a wristband with a little button, which she can push to speak to an emergency call centre in Tunstall, which will either a take a message and phone Mayford Grange or take action themselves if necessary (e.g. call an ambulance). This means Hannah can get care or assistance straightaway if she needs it. She says this gives her great peace of mind because she lives on her own.
“Mayford Grange is a good place to live,” added Hannah. “When I’m not out and about I use my computer to keep in touch with my family. I also make bags using my sewing machine and greetings cards to sell in the village shop, donating the proceeds to Woking Hospice.”