Christmas Crackers awards 2020 has certainly been memorable – and, let’s face it, very difficult for most of us. But despite the hardships, there have been so many people who have helped lift our spirits and brighten our lives. We wanted to recognise just a few of them – our Christmas Crackers – who’ve made life in our McCarthy Stone developments a little more special by sharing their achievements, talents and stories.

McCarthy Stone Personality of the year

We selected 10 people from our community who shone brightly this year. All of them achieved something amazing, entertained and inspired us. We then asked you to vote for your favourite to be crowned McCarthy Stone Personality of the Year. And our worthy winner is…


Our courageous fundraiser, Martin from Banks Place, Swindon.

Christmas cracker award winner, Martin


What a superstar! You can real all our award winners' amazing stories below.

Ann Maskell Skydiving

Daredevil of the year

Someone whose jaw-dropping exploits prove age is no barrier to adventure: Ann

Ann of Pen Morvah Retirement Living development, Bude discovered her adventurous side in her 60s, enjoying treks across Nepal and Peru, and, in 2019, whizzing down Europe’s fastest zip wire. To celebrate her 80th birthday she achieved her dream of a tandem skydive from 10,000 feet this August – despite having had to do an emergency exit from a plane last year.

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Bagpipes - Hilltree Court

Musician of the year 

Someone whose musical talent brought us joy: Kenneth

Kenneth, the son of one of our Estate Managers entertained the residents of Hilltree Court with his bagpipes at the height of the summer lockdown. Homeowners watched from their Juliet balconies or sat and enjoyed the music in the communal gardens – at a safe distance of course.

One Door Closes Another Door Opens

Community champion of the year

Someone whose community spirit brightened our lives: Patricia MBE

From travelling around the world to founding children’s charity, Dreamflight, Patricia has always lived life to the full. Retirement has provided another opportunity to flex her considerable organisational skills, helping to plan events to lift the spirits of her fellow homeowners at Chiltern Place, Amersham during lockdown – including a virtual cruise.

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Athlete of the year

Someone who’s kept fighting fit despite restrictions: Eric

Eric from Pinnoc Mews Retirement Living development Exeter challenged himself to up his pace on his 77th birthday with a pedometer. When he found 10,000 steps a day was just too easy, he challenged himself to 14,000 and managed an astonishing 5.1 million steps in the year. He plans to go even further in 2021.

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Writer of the year

Someone who’s creative writing lifted our spirits: Ron

Ron, from Brueton Place in Solihull won our pandemic poetry competition with his joyful and beautifully written poem about the ‘The Girls of First Floor Brueton Place’. The judge, writer Michael Bird described it as a “lively, affectionate and funny take on friendship and social distancing.”

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Fundraiser of the year

Someone whose pushed themselves to the limits for charity: Martin

Devastatingly Martin, from Banks Place, Swindon, went blind overnight in July 2019. This difficult situation was compounded by lockdown which left him feeling increasingly low. When House Manager Wendy encouraged him to take up a challenge, he chose to walk a hundred laps for Blind Veterans UK this October. He raised over £2,600, boosting his confidence and zest for life in the process.

Read Martin's story here

Artist of the year

Someone who’s inspired us with their late-blooming creative talent: Professor Peter

Having barely touched a paintbrush until his 50s, Professor Peter of Fairway View Retirement Living development in Brough, East Yorkshire staged his first ever art exhibition in September at the age of 73. Impressively, he sold 23 out of the 26 paintings raising over £1,200 for MacMillan Cancer Research and his local church.

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Mr Gridley

Entertainer of the year

Someone whose clever wit and talent has kept us all smiling: Bob 

Bob, 77, started creating his cartoons when the first lockdown hit, depicting his experience in a series of sharply funny cartoons, taking his inspiration from his home at the Bishop’s Waltham development, Walmsley Place - we’ve been enjoying them almost every week ever since!

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Artisan of the year

Someone who’s turned a hobby, craft or skill into something really special: Wendy

Wendy from Lancaster House, Middlesex used her sewing skills to make over 200 scrubs for NHS workers at the height of the pandemic, with the help of the local WI. These were donated to a very grateful Hillingdon and Harefield Hospital


Hero of the year

Someone whose life has had an historic impact: Doreen

Signing the official secrets act in her teens, 99-year old Doreen has a habit of not talking about herself too much, but her role as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park was part of an extraordinary top secret war effort that played a significant – and now legendary - role in securing the allies success in the Second World War.

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Thank you everyone

Choosing winners was incredibly difficult as so many of our homeowners have shown incredible levels of community spirit, can-do attitude and kindness throughout the year.

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