McCarthy Stone Christmas Cracker awards 2021

Our retirement developments quickly become thriving communities. Communities of inspiring individuals who lift our spirits and brighten our lives. We want to recognise just a few of them – our Christmas Crackers – who make life in McCarthy Stone retirement developments a little more special. 

We’ve asked our  teams and homeowners to nominate people they feel have gone ‘above and beyond’ in 2021. We had a fantastic response and it was really tough to choose three overall winners.  But the results are in. Drum roll please!

Our three 2021 Christmas Cracker winners are...

Chris Costar, Pinnoc Mews, Exeter

Party organiser, Chris Costar, Pinnoc Mews, Exeter, Devon. Nominated by House Manager, Linda Gorman Rasaiah

Chris always, always has a smile on his face and a great party idea up his sleeve. He’s the main carer for his wonderful wife Rita who sadly has quite advanced dementia but despite this he (with the help of his wonderful family) are always at the heart of all of our social occasions.

He even used his 60th wedding anniversary party as an opportunity to raise money for a local homeless shelter.  Fortunately for me, Chris loves Christmas as much as I do and he not only supports my yearly food bank drive but he also organises our annual Christmas carol service.

I cannot put into words how much everyone thinks of Chris, he is our 6ft 5in all year round Christmas Elf and we love him!

Generous Janet Gibson, Olympic Court, Luton, Bedfordshire. Nominated by House Manager, Pam Meaton

“Janet is the kindest and most generous person you could ever meet. Every Christmas and Easter Janet decorates the development and knits every single one of us a little animal with a chocolate egg in its pouch. They are hung on each door. 
Janet is always the first to ask after everyone and help them if they are unwell. There's nothing she would not do, despite her own health being fragile at times. Recently, Janet was concerned that a homeowner was nervous about getting to her booster jab - Janet booked a taxi and accompanied her. This wonderful lady is an inspiration to all of us.”
John Christmas sparkle gift

Lifesaver John Harris, Imber Court, Wiltshire. Nominated by House Manager, Sally Larcombe

“[During lockdown], he did all the rubbish collections for any homeowners who were shielding, ill or just scared. John deals with the charity collections, the recycling of library books and jigsaw puzzles, he organises the bingo, dominoes and the quiz nights. He has supported me at every turn. John recently helped me with a lady who had stopped breathing, he helped get her on the floor and counted while I performed CPR.

John never stops caring and helping homeowners, he patient and understanding of health issues, including dementia. It is a joy to know him.”
Homeowner, Patricia Hawkins also nominated John (and his wife Patricia) saying he ‘is always willing to help anyone.’

Of course, they are all winners in our eyes...

There were so many heart-warming stories of generosity and selflessness. And it was so lovely to hear tales of communities pulling together. Everyone who was nominated will receive a special thank you card, while our winners will also get a bottle of champagne. Here are just some of the other worthy nominations...

Ivan Kennel, Pavilion Court 3

War hero, Ivan Kennel, Pavilion Court, Felixstowe, Suffolk
Nominated by House Manager, Fleur Rudland

“Ivan kennel is a wonder to behold at the age of 96 years old.
His humour and wisdom never fail to entertain us and I have so much admiration for him. On Remembrance Day, Ivan proudly stood with one of his medals ‘The Legion Of Honour’, which was awarded by the French government only recently to all those veterans involved with the D-Day landings and the liberation of France.

Ivan has also written a book about his life, which is a fascinating read. He is a very important part of the development here and I felt compelled for him to be recognised for that and how much he is thought of.”

The Legion of Honour
This is the highest French order of merit originally created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.
Lena Evenden, Fussells Court 2

Lena Evenden, Fussells Court, Worle, Somerset
Nominated by House Manager, Sharon Bird

"A lady who handmakes her own cards and gift boxes, from which the proceeds of sale go to ‘Mind’ charity, and the local ‘Food Bank’. During the early part of the pandemic residents struggled to get out for cards, Lena made them individually and charged only a small amount for materials – residents were thrilled and Lena has raised several hundreds of pounds for good causes and charities on behalf of ‘residents of Fussells Court’.  Lena has recently joined the Resident’s Association as she like to be a part of organising functions, charity days, parties, and tabletop stalls. She deserves a big thank you."

Bill Smith

William (Bill) Smith, Haworth Court, Chorley, Lancashire. Nominated by Nickie Hodkinson and everyone at Haworth Court


“He’s such a lovely person and will do anything to help people, he’s donated towards some entertainment when funds were low, he’s taken people for their flu jabs and Covid boosters, he’s been to collect prescriptions for people he organises a film night each week and has jointly organised a Christmas party for the development. He is a much loved resident and is always happy and has a joke to share. He celebrated his new hearing aid by having an impromptu evening in the lounge showing an Andre Rieu concert! We think he’s the best!”

Jessie, Clover Leaf Court, Alton, 2

Kind-hearted Jessie, Clover Leaf Court, Alton, Hampshire
Nominated by House Manager, Catriona Eaton

“She has the kindest heart and never accepts anything from anyone, unless it is for charity.  She always puts on a display for us at one of the tables, so whether it is Remembrance Sunday or the Queen’s birthday she puts out a gorgeous display all out of her own personal arts and crafts.  She handmakes all the cards for everyone, like birthday or get well soon cards and is always thinking of other people.  She sings in a local choir and she is not shy for singing for all the residents after our weekly coffee morning meeting. She has also encouraged a few of the residents to join her in the choir group which they are now thoroughly enjoying.  She is currently crocheting hats for adults and babies for charity. She is a wonderful kind-hearted soul.”


Maurice Tomlinson, Martin Court, Grantham, Lincolnshire. Nominated by House Manager, Kelly Lever. 

“Maurice is a great organiser. He arranges the monthly bonus ball 50/50 game, gets monthly fish and chips for homeowners, hosts bingo night and film nights. He also is part of our night checks team.”

Mary Parker, Sydney Court, Sidcup, Kent. Nominated by Lesley the Estate Manager and team

“Mary runs bingo twice a week to raise money for homeowners’ events…Mary is a good friend to all homeowners and she is well-liked by all. She also raises money for charity outside of the development.”

Susan Gallagher, Martin Court, Grantham, Lincolnshire. Nominated by House Manager, Kelly Lever

Susan was inspirational in providing support to homeowners throughout lockdown, nothing was ever too much trouble. Whether it be a bit of shopping, that welfare call, some laundry or the card making club she helps run on a Monday. She spreads that little bit of joy, that brings a smile to each and every homeowner.

Bryan Summers, Horton Mill Court, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire. Nominated by Duty Manager, Christina Brown

Mr Summers helps out in the community on a regularly basis, from collecting items for charity events to helping people get to the hospital with community transport.  Also he will organise transport for our homeowner’s if they need to go anywhere, he will try to help out anyway he can. 

Knit and Natter, Wilton Court, Kenilworth, Warwickshire. Nominated by Registered Estate Manager, Nicholas Twigger 

“Throughout lockdown and continuing, these ladies have been knitting squares to make into blankets to send to the Gaza. They have currently made 30 blankets.”

Barbara and Nigel Firban Millar Place

'Giving' Barbara and Nigel Firban, Miller Place, Bedford, Bedfordshire
Nominated by House Manager, Marian Barron

“It is so hard to single anyone out, so many homeowners have shone in their endeavours. However if the spirit of Christmas is ‘giving’ then these homeowners embody it. Nothing is too much trouble for these two. Quite often you will hear homeowners say to each other, 'Have you asked Barbara/Nigel?’ as they have become the oracles of all things Miller Place related! These two lovely people do it all without drawing attention to themselves – they just get on and quietly give, give, give to all.”  
Diana Swann

Diana Swann, Tudor Rose Court, Southsea, Hampshire
Nominated by Estate Manager, Murat Canbek

“As a retired classical musician and writer, she holds regular Soirees for classical music within the development which are very popular by and she has written a poetry book -we held a book signing event at the end of November." Watch a film about Diana here.

Gordon Rainbow Brueton Place

Artist Gordon Rainbow, Brueton Place, Solihull, West Midlands Nominated by House Manager, Lennette Bruce

“Gordon has been an artist for over 30 years and mainly does water colours now. We have a number of his painting around the communal areas and they are admired both by homeowners and visitors. Gordon has had three exhibitions, with one here where he raised £500 for Motor Neuron disease.”


Ray Griffiths, The Oaks, Alsager, Cheshire. Nominated by Angela Halliwell, Sales Consultant

"He is an amazing artist.  He invited me in to have a look at them and I was blown away. He is enjoying living in his apartment as it gives him more time to continue with his fabulous paintings.”

Angela Townsend, Middleton Court, Porthcawl, South Wales. Nominated by House Manager, Debbie Elsey

“She regularly makes delicious cakes for those that are housebound and frail. It has made such a difference to them. She really shows a kind selfless neighbourly spirit.”

Mr Bill Lynn, Weighbridge Court, Ongar, Essex. Nominated by Alison Scally, Registered Estate Manager 

“Bill (who is almost 93) spends his own money and time on a colourful display of potted plants by our entrance which he tends in all weathers. He changes the flowers with the seasons. They are a cheery greeting to everyone and receive many positive comments.”

David Howard AKA ‘Dave from Boston’, Martin Court, Grantham, Lincolnshire. Nominated by House Manager, Kelly Lever

“Knowing DIY is not my forte, he often jumps into the breech with me when he sees me out doing something in the development... He loves to be made useful and he is always busying himself whether it be raking up the leaves in the car park or conducting the night checks.”

Barry and Carol Coombes, Beckside Gardens, Guisborough, North Yorkshire. Nominated by House Manager, Josh Fido-Lake

“Barry supports me within the Fire alarm every Tuesday. He and his wife support me by being a contact all year round. He also supports homeowners who are unable to do things in their apartments. He is an amazing gentleman, and Carol his wife, so supportive to everyone.”

Joan and Val_the_cedars_malpas

Good friends Joan Allen and Valerie Bradley, The Cedars, Malpas, Cheshire. Nominated by House Manager, Sue Mifsud

“Joan is my oldest homeowner at 92 and has lived in the village all her life so is a font of all knowledge locally. She still drives and takes an active role in events and groups in the village. Valerie moved here from the Midlands and does not drive. Joan has struck up a real friendship with Valerie, taking her out shopping and going for walks.

They get together every afternoon in the lounge to share their love of jig-saws and will look out for each other. Joan is a fantastic baker. I hosted a coffee morning on the 5th November in aid of the Royal British Legion. Joan kindly baked a cake, iced cupcakes, butterfly cupcakes and fruit buns. Both her and Valerie also gave me gifts for the raffle.” 
George Townsend Court

George Abrahams, Townsend Court, Rushden, Northamptonshire. Nominated by the team at Townsend Court

"George is always upbeat and happy. He raises a smile to everyone and has been a great boost to us all during the lockdown. He is kind, funny and generous to all. He cares about everyone and engages with all, he treats everyone with respect and has an ability to make new people feel comfortable and relaxed in their new surroundings. 

George is so popular that we have had to increase the restaurant table size to accommodate all those that want to sit with him. His apartment door is opposite my office and without fail at 08:01 am he pops his cheerful face out to welcome me to work with a funny tale and a laugh. He always asks how I am and lets me know I’m doing a great job.
He has inspired us all with his kindness, sense of humour, wonderful smile, and endless positivity. George has terminal aggressive cancer growths on his beautiful face, which he receives treatment for each week, even with this devastating prognosis and pain, he remains upbeat, funny and kind. We love George!"
Janet Page, Brueton Place

Janet Page, Brueton Place, Solihull, West Midlands
Nominated by House Manager, Lennette Bruce

“Janet recycles everyone’s old cards and has a sales table here at Brueton where homeowners can buy them. She has raised over £1,300 for charity and is still going strong.
Janet has many years’ experience of crafting and flower arranging, she has arranged flowers for many events, and was chairman of the local flower club and also on a lot of committees both in the church and on Towns Women’s Guild.”

 Val and Ann

Val Mayson and Ann Harpin, Isabella House, Hertford, Hertfordshire. Nominated by House Manager, June Lee

“They moved in as two couples who were both very supportive of creating a community and running activities. Sadly this year they lost their husbands, a massive loss for the families and Isabella House, nevertheless the two ladies although dealing with their own grief continued to be a “good neighbour” to other homeowners, for example making lunches for someone feeling under the weather. Nothing is too much for them.”

And Ann has these touching words for House Manager, June 

“June has gone above and beyond when we needed support especially during the difficult times…including taking {myself and my husband] to hospital on her days off, waiting around to ensure everything went smoothly with the appointments.”

Homeowner Doreen also wants to praise June, “I don't know how I would get on without her. She is always there when I need her. She makes me laugh and that is very important. I really think she is the best.”

Andrea Harris, William Court, Bristol. Nominated by Bee Baker and team

“Andrea provides everything we need to make Christmas decorations, crackers, cards and activities. Andrea will help us complete our activity for each occasion throughout the year. Holding a craft session every month allowing us to celebrate. Bringing all the materials, the set-up, the people and love.

If anyone is in trouble, they always knock on Andrea’s door, that is because, they know they can and not be judged. Andrea is always happy to help. Even though life can be tough for her sometimes, she doesn’t stop helping us, and for that, we would like to thank her.

The Activity Committee, Beckside Gardens, Guisborough, North Yorkshire. Nominated by House Manager, Josh Fido-Lake

“Marjorie King, Sandy Robinson, Linda Knott and Eileen Stanforth, have made massive contributions, organising activities, engaging with people and bringing our community together.”

Sheila Lillingston, Culpeper Court. Nominated by House Manager, Suzanne McQueen

“Sheila is a wonderful inspiration. She has organised events and started up her very own armchair exercise group. She loves gardening and has purchased many plants to make our garden beautiful. She helps out with lifts for other homeowners. I think that she deserves recognition as a kind, caring person who makes everyone’s life a little easier and a little more jolly!”

Carole Wheatley, Tyefield Place, Hadleigh, Suffolk. Nominated by House Manager, Clair Morton

Carole’s the ‘mum’ of the development, she makes everyone drinks at coffee morning and when she’s in the lounge, makes sure there’s always milk in the fridge and biscuits in the tin, chats to everyone (especially if their having a bad day) and helps where she can, nothings never too much trouble. She is a real gem.

John Caddick, Tyefield Place, Hadleigh, Suffolk. Nominated by House Manager, Clair Morton

“When I'm not on site, he keeps any eye on everyone and helps resolve small problems e.g. helping people in with their shopping, and many other things. He really is a star.”

Sheila (Penny) Dunsire, Farringford Court, Lymington, Hampshire. Nominated by Estates Manager, Jacqui Sheppard 

Penny welcomes all our new homeowners. She is the driving force behind our McMillan Coffee mornings and we have raised considerable sums over the years. She buys flowers for the lounge, sets questions for the weekly quiz and supports events in the development. Although Christmas is not her favourite time of the year, she is a Christmas cracker all year round.” 

Tony Pettitt, Applegate House, Trowbridge, Wiltshire. Nominated by Mandi Machin, House Manager

“When it snowed year before last, I was ready to clear the snow on the paths but it had already been done for me by this brilliant homeowner. He tears round keeping the garden looking beautiful and helps to organise events through the year.”

Patricia Poulton, Miami House, Chelmsford, Essex. Nominated by Cheryl, Duty Manager

“Pat is known as Pat the cat! She started a choir at Miami house to encourage other homeowners to join in for a sing along. This stared out has a small group with them all having fun to now a much bigger group. We now look forward to the Christmas festivities and our own carol service. It’s such a lovely thing to do getting everybody together.”

John and Anne Phillips, Bath Gate Place, Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Nominated by Nathalie Bradley, House Manager

“They are my helpful homeowners and are so kind and supportive of me… Nothing is too much trouble and they do it to help - for no glory at all. All this, whilst John is 90 years old and is not in best health himself presently.  He is truly a superstar!”

Mr and Mrs Elders, Huntcliff court, Saltburn-by-the-sea, North Yorkshire. Nominated by Hilary McGee, House Manager

“Mr Elders always goes above and beyond to help his neighbours. He is the one they all call upon for help and support and he never refuses, I am trying hard to teach him to say ‘NO’ but to no avail. He has carried out the role of the good Samaritan from the first day he arrived here over 10 years ago. He has a hidden talent also, that I managed to get him to demonstrate on occasions. He is a fabulous poet!

His wife Joan is also the most fantastic person you could wish to meet. She also goes above and beyond to support her neighbours and the garden has won many awards over the years because of the amount of work she puts into it. Joan also does a lot for a local charity. Joan knits at different times of the year; for example Easter and Christmas. Her wares are sold in the development and all monies raised goes to. This Christmas she has raised £100 for Zoe’s place, a children’s hospice in Teesside.”

Judith Badman, Cartwright court, Malvern, Worcestershire. Nominated by Duty Manager, Sally Bishop

“She always offers a listening ear, offers lifts in her car, gives money to numerous charities, she has sat beside other homeowners in their final hours of life if family weren’t able to. She has a passion in lifting others spirits when they are feeling down, including staff. She cares deeply about the health and wellbeing of everyone she knows. She really is a superstar.” 

Mrs Gillian Rose, Tudor Rose Court, Southsea, Hampshire. Nominated by Estate Manager, Murat Canbek

“She is exceptional support to other homeowners. As well as volunteering in a charity shop, she regularly assists her neighbours offering them lifts and taking them to their health care appointment and offering emotional support.” 

Mr Terry Moore, Humphrey court, Stafford, Staffordshire. Nominated by House Manager, Jessica White

“He is always ready to help out at events, also helping other homeowners with changing lightbulbs or shopping and you’ll always find him in our car park keeping all the cars lovely and clean!”

Mrs Noon, Bilberry Place, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. Nominated by Registered Estate Manager, Jessica Campbell

“She is the cement that keeps everything together.” 
Throughout the pandemic she helped support the community 
She raises money for many different charities 
She arranges events, from choir visits to speakers and, singers 
She takes homeowners to hospital and doctor appointments 
She organised a card stand which is a massive hit. She buys treats for the staff from the money raised,
She raised funds to enable us to grow some lovely fresh produce in our communal garden 

Neil Thistleton, Burey Court, Preston, Lancashire. Nominated by House Manager, Julie Fisher

Among a host of other things, he organises the coffee morning and movie evenings. He is very kind and caring with homeowners, he assists by helping people to settle into the development, taking them for hospital appointments, shopping or just a comforting chat.

Tony Squires, Burey Court, Preston, Lancashire. Nominated by House Manager, Julie Fisher

He is described by homeowners as the ‘resident handyman’. He helps out by doing little jobs for people in their apartments, gardening, shopping, nothing is too much trouble and he is a popular character.

David Hunter, Thackrah Court, Leeds, West Yorkshire. Nominated by Registered Estate Manager, Kelly Worgan

“He organises events, he contacts various different acts, from singers, to school choirs and often invites his own choir to perform. He is a real trooper. I consider myself to be really lucky and privileged to have a homeowner that truly cares about the community, Huge heartfelt thanks David.”

The Creative Group, Thackrah Court, Leeds, West Yorkshire. Nominated by Registered Estate Manager, Kelly Worgan

“David Ansell, Margaret Everson and Patricia England. The three of them literally decorate the development for any holiday, whether it’s Christmas, Easter, Olympics, they create such beautiful and thoughtful displays.”

Clive and Helen Harris, Thackrah Court, Leeds, West Yorkshire. Nominated by Registered Estate Manager, Kelly Worgan

“They will usually create a beautiful display for Christmas, made with fresh flowers and various plants from the communal gardens. Clive who was my sound check gentleman, he always ensured that the PA system was set up for any events and also installed a sound system in the lounge to enhance movie nights.”

The Gardening Group, Thackrah Court, Leeds, West Yorkshire. Nominated by Registered Estate Manager, Kelly Worgan.

Including Elsie Groom, David Hunter, Edna Marchant and Margaret Williams 
“Thackrah Court has a stunning, beautiful garden, which is not just down to the wonderful landscape gardeners but to their very own gardening group. Elsie has created a beautiful meadow at the top of the garden.”

Shirley and Bert Sadler, Fussells Court, Worle, Somerset. Nominated by House Manager, Sharon Bird

Shirley is a real people person – she and Bert run errands for residents and generally promote being a ‘good neighbour’. During the pandemic, the postman stopped delivering mail – Shirley and her husband Bert jumped to the ready, and for many months they hand delivered letters and parcels across the development to residents; Shirley is good fun, and always smiles. Bert writes poetry and is very humorous and kind.

Sandra and Ray, Fussells Court, Worle, Somerset. Nominated by House Manager, Sharon Bird

Sandra has joined the Residents’ Association as she enjoys helping people and getting everyone together. She runs the Knit & Natter and darts groups.  She and her husband Ray help with small errands. Many homeowners come to them for support, sewing, knitting, small DIY jobs – and they never say no! Both deserve appreciation!

Roger and Linda Green, Fussells Court, Worle, Somerset. Nominated by House Manager, Sharon Bird

A great couple who support homeowners in my absence. Linda has been treasurer on the Resident’s Association for years, raising money for good causes.  They are diplomatic and positive influences.

Peter Farmer, Fussells Court, Worle, Somerset. Nominated by House Manager, Sharon Bird

During the pandemic, he helped deliver the post, parcels, medication, and so much more.  He helps people in lots of ways, including delivering coffee morning cakes. He is a sparkle of sunshine.

Friends Mike Evans and Sandra Wimblett, Fussells Court, Worle, Somerset. Nominated by House Manager, Sharon Bird

They arrange for daily newspapers to be delivered to the development.  Mike regularly fetches bread and milk for people and they also help out a lot at the coffee mornings. They have a true community spirit.

Denise Stewart, Fussells Court, Worle, Somerset. Nominated by House Manager, Sharon Bird

Denise has a great sense of humour and she is always first to offer her help. Furthermore Denise organises walks off the development, and several others have benefited from being out in the fresh air - it has really promoted good mental health. 

Marion Bowley, Fussells Court, Worle, Somerset. Nominated by House Manager, Sharon Bird 

Marion is very outgoing and does a lot for others at the development, including giving lifts to people in need – taking them for their Covid jabs and other medical appointments. 

Doreen, Chiltern Place, Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Nominated by Registered Estate Manager, Jo Bannon

"Despite living with Alzheimer’s, and to help with her sense of purpose, Doreen has been helping us with setting up the bistro and folding napkins and has since moved on to cobweb busting around the development with an extendable feather duster that I purchased on her request. Her fee is Cappuccino!"

Thank you everyone for all that you do!

Choosing winners was incredibly difficult. So many of our homeowners show inspiring levels of community spirit, can-do attitude and kindness throughout the year. And that’s not to mention all our amazing employees, suppliers and volunteers who make our retirement communities truly special. We wish you and your families all a healthy and happy Christmas.

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