Len shares his retirement living journey
An honest conversation with his son sparked a brand new lifestyle for 89 year old retired head teacher from Harrow, Leonard Gray.
Now happily living in a two bedroom apartment at Randolph House, a McCarthy Stone Retirement Living development in Harrow, London, Len recalls the moment that ed to his decision to move from his three-bedroom semi-detached house. “I remember the conversation distinctly. My son, Colin, simply said, ‘Come on Dad, you’re not getting any younger. I think it might be time to move.’ I had to admit that he was right. I was starting to need a bit of help with the house, there was the garden to maintain and quite a lot of general upkeep. I decided to look for somewhere where life would be a little easier.”
Open to the idea of moving, Len visited prospective properties in Chorleywood, but his heart was in Harrow. He discovered that this was the one compromise he was not willing to make. “I’d lived in Harrow since 1954 and I didn’t really want to leave the area. My daughter-in-law, Marie-Louise, spotted an advert for Randolph House in a newspaper. The development was only three miles from where I was living at the time and I thought it was worth a visit, so my son, daughter-in-law and I went to take a look.
“As soon as I arrived at Randolph House I was impressed,” remembers Len. “I viewed a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor, and I thought, ‘This is beautiful’. We had a look round at all the facilities: the homeowners’ lounge, the grounds, and the fabulous guest suite – even the laundry room! Then we went to visit the restaurant and stayed for lunch, which was superb. I thought, ‘Now, here’s a place I could call home.’ We came back and had a second viewing of the apartment. I just knew it was the place for me.
“I opted to do a part exchange and this proved to be a real blessing. The team at McCarthy Stone were wonderful and couldn’t have been more helpful. I didn’t come alone though - my cat Bandit and I are growing old gracefully together, so it really sealed the deal when I discovered that I could bring him along with me. He’s settled in very well indeed – he’s as happy as a cat can be!”
Len married his late wife Louise in 1954 and the couple were delighted to welcome their son Colin into the world three years later. Fast forward 67 years and retired head teacher Len is now a proud grandfather and great grandfather.
Having always been a keen musician, Len remembers how playing the piano stood him in very good stead when it came to applying for teaching posts. “Every time I went to an interview, I was asked the same question, ‘Do you play the piano?’ In those days, the daily assembly in the school hall was an important ritual and the hymns were always accompanied by a teacher on the piano. So, the fact I could always answer that question with a ‘yes’ often set me apart from the other applicants.”
Still an avid lover of music today, Len has made good use of the spare bedroom in his new apartment. “Moving from a three-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment, it was important to me to live somewhere with plenty of space – and that is what I’ve got here,” Len comments. “I’ve turned my second bedroom into a music room where I keep my upright piano, harpsichord and my little spinet. I sit down and play the piano every single morning and play a few of my favourite hymns. It’s a real tonic. Some of my friends sometimes come round and listen to me play too, so I’m glad I can spread some enjoyment through one of my greatest passions.”
Since moving to Randolph House, Len has immersed himself in community life. “I go to the restaurant every single day for lunch. The food is absolutely delicious and there’s always plenty of choice. Our lovely chef, Florence, is a real inspiration. I always look forward to the roasts on Wednesdays and Sundays. I’ve made some great friends here and we often see each other in the restaurant or the homeowners’ lounge. The social side of living at Randolph House is important to me and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that moving here was the best thing for me at this time in my life.”
Before the pandemic hit, there was a busy calendar of social events and activities at Randolph House. “You didn’t have to take part in everything, and I must admit that when they came around, I gave the Strictly Come Dancing nights a miss, but the film nights were great,” Len explains.
As Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease in England and events are reintroduced to Randolph House, Len and his fellow homeowners are looking to the future. “We’ve been making plans,” he continues. “We’ve talked about holding a concert in the restaurant or lounge for everyone at Randolph House who wants to come and enjoy some music. We’re really looking forward to it.”
Having the church of St. John The Baptist, Greenhill, on the doorstep is incredibly important for Len, who has always been devoted to his Christian faith. “That’s another wonderful thing about living here. I’m part of such a diverse and friendly community and we all embrace that.
“I often enjoy just sitting and looking out at the splendid views over the treetops from my apartment. I can see two beautiful trees – a wonderful Cedar and a Scots Pine. I can see Stanmore Common in the distance and Bentley Priory. I’m in the heart of Harrow and I’ve got everything I need; my cat, my music and the perfect place to call home. I’m really very happy!”
Prices at Randolph House currently start from £372,950 for a one-bedroom apartment and from £494,995 for a two-bedroom apartment. Rental and Part Buy Part Rent options are also available.