Stanley and Joan Sutherland, Moat Park

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If you’re thinking of downsizing, then do it sooner rather than later, say the Sutherlands.

The head certainly had to rule the heart when retired engineer Stanley Sutherland and his wife Joan, a retired secretary and bookkeeper, made the ultimate decision to downsize and up root from their home in the Essex countryside.

“It took a lot of heart searching, not least the fact we would have to sort out our belongings after 40 years in the same house,” explained Stanley, 83.

The couple moved just eight miles – from their four-bedroom home with an acre and a third of garden in Radwinter village – to a one bedroom apartment at Moat Park retirement village in Great Easton.

“We lived in the middle of ‘Weetabix Country’ (cereal crops) and it was a lot to give up but we started to question ourselves and ask what would happen if one of us suddenly became ill or less mobile and we were stuck here, in the middle of nowhere. It just wasn’t practical,” added Stanley.

Instead of driving past the entrance to the newly-emerging Maynard House apartments within the Moat Park retirement village, the couple decided to turn up the driveway and take a closer look for themselves, and the rest is history, as they say.

“We moved in this March and we’ve settled in really well. This is such a great concept because individuals can maximize it to whatever degree they want,” Stanley explained.

“We particularly like the fact it is a small and compact village with some wonderful grounds. Joan and I have joined the residents’ association and it feels as though our residents’ lounge in the clubhouse is the village hall while the residents’ association is the parish council.”

Married for 58 years, Stanley and Joan, 82, do not expect to spend all of their time village based. They have family and friends scattered far and wide and are both keen family historians, having started The Essex Society for Family History’s branch in Saffron Walden many years ago.

“Life is for living and we have plenty to do outside of the village. What is nice though is knowing we are in a settled situation for whatever lies ahead,” explained Stanley. “That is a very comforting thought.”

“And would we recommend this to others? Yes. But we both agree that if people are contemplating downsizing to this type of lifestyle they shouldn’t keep putting it off. They need to do the research and make a decision. It needs doing when you can, not when you have to, in our opinion.”