Didcot Homeowner Reflects on Life During Lockdown
It’s been a challenging time for us all over the last few months, but that hasn’t stopped the residents at McCarthy Stone’s Williams Place Retirement Living Plus development in Didcot, who were determined to not let lockdown get them down.
Jack Collins, 86, has had a very active social life since he first moved to Williams Place on Greenwood Way in July 2018. Over the course of his time at the development, Jack has been involved in organising entertainment and social events for his fellow residents, from Saturday sing-along sessions to weekly ‘chair exercise’ classes. So, when the country locked down in a bid to ‘flatten the curve’, life was suddenly very different.
Jack explains: “One of the reasons I moved to Williams Place, apart from being closer to my sons, was to be a part of a community, and that’s exactly what I got. I quickly made new friends, there were various activities and events on six days a week, including film nights, bingo and quiz nights – there was always something to do. The Saturday sing-along nights were a lot of fun too – we would all have a couple of glasses of wine whilst listening to our favourite music from the 60’s and 70’s - it was actually getting to be quite a popular night!
“So, when we went into lockdown, it was a bit of a shock to the system I have to say. Suddenly, we were unable to gather in our communal lounge for our weekly activities, our bistro had to close, and we were only allowed to go outside for daily exercise or essential trips. It was certainly a challenging time for us all.”
Luckily, Williams Place’s Estate Manager, Claire Truesdale, and the rest of the McCarthy Stone team were on hand to help residents get through this worrying period. They wanted to mark VE Day in style and bring everyone closer together, so they held a socially distanced celebration in the garden with flags, bunting and music. They also provided puzzles and quizzes for residents to do in their apartments, delivered food, medicine and other supplies to those that were shielding and couldn’t get out and about, and helped with any technology queries so residents could video call and chat to their loved ones and each other.
Jack says: “The team here at Williams Place have been great. Nothing has been too much trouble, and I know they’ve done everything they could to make sure we are all kept safe and entertained. I tend to live independently, but I know the residents who weren’t able to leave their apartment for six months really valued all the help that Claire and the team offered during lockdown – I’m not sure what they would have done without it.
“We’re lucky that we have a nice garden here, so we’ve been able to sit outside and have a socially distanced chat since restrictions have eased, which has made the world of difference.”
Nicki Beswarick, Divisional Marketing Manager for McCarthy Stone Southern, said: “Our first priority at McCarthy Stone is always the safety and wellbeing of our residents, so we wanted to make sure everyone at Williams Place felt safe and supported, as well as helping our residents to continue to enjoy each other’s company where possible.
“Through uncertain times, our residents have shown just how resilient and strong they are, and never lost faith. We’re all really proud of everyone at Williams Place.”
Fast forward to today, and Jack is hoping the team can reintroduce some of the activities that took place at the development before lockdown. He concludes: “It would be great if we could start our sing-along nights as soon as it is safe to do so – we will have to try and get creative and start a new socially distanced session instead!”
Jack moved from County Durham to the Williams Place Retirement Living Plus development in Didcot to be closer to his sons after his wife sadly passed away, and to downsize from a large bungalow to a low-maintenance apartment. He has now been living happily at Williams Place for more than two years.