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A Community Within a Community

Freya Wilding

Freya Wilding



Life, family, friends, all move on around you at such a pace, that you suddenly find yourself in a situation you never thought would be possible.

For many elderly people living in Hertfordshire, loneliness can be one of the worst things about getting older. This is true of Lionel Peters, 89, who up until September 2018, had lived alone in a large semi-detached home in Edgware for over 50 years, long after his two children had grown up and left home. 

A Community of Neighbours

Lionel describes how his community of neighbours had started to change and disintegrate around him. 

“Living in a small cul-de-sac with young children it used to be the case that you would know everyone by first name terms”, says Lionel.

“Nowadays, nobody knocks on each other’s doors anymore. You might get an occasional smile or wave, but nothing more. We used to invite each other round for drinks, send cards at Christmas. Now people come and go but there just isn’t that sense of shared community like there was.”

I felt so very isolated. 

Lionel’s wife sadly passed away 15 years ago, which meant that for a long time Lionel lived alone until he was fortunate enough to meet his new partner, Jacquie. “The loneliness I felt is a symptom that those who are of the same generation as me, will have experienced.

Lionel and Jacquie share a 23-year age gap. “Jacquie keeps me young”, says Lionel. “She was the one that really encouraged me to move. We saw a brochure together for McCarthy & Stone and out of curiosity we went to see the development. We were really impressed. I sent Jacquie off to see the apartment I’d chosen, as it was still being built so it didn’t have a lift installed just yet for me to get up there.”

A Ready-Made Community

Jacquie reported back to Lionel and soon after he put a deposit down on a two-bedroom apartment at McCarthy & Stone’s Goldwyn House in Borehamwood. An exclusive development for the over-70s, it appealed to them both because it had lifts to all floors, an on-site restaurant and was close to a variety of local shops and amenities; but more than that it was a ready-made community.

There are currently around 15 homeowners living at Goldwyn House, a Retirement Living Plus development on Studio Way, and Lionel says he’s patiently waiting for more to join.

A Sense of Neighbourliness 

“There’s people from all walks of life, backgrounds, different ages. However, what we all share is this sense of neighbourliness that has been missing from my life up to now. We look after each other. We meet in the homeowner’s lounge for a chat, and there is another gentleman I meet up with every day at 4pm sharp to go downstairs together.”

Lionel has started to make plenty of new friends since moving to the development, many of which like him, are of a Jewish background. 

“The Jewish community in Borehamwood is very important”, says Lionel. “I’m not overly religious now, but what’s nice is that for those that share my beliefs there is a sense of unity and of understanding, which at this stage in my life has become of real importance and value to me. 

“Of course we’re all very different in our own ways, but not so different in others, so it’s a nice feeling to know we have our own little community within a community. We just need more people to move in now and it will be complete!”

Maintain an Independent Lifestyle

Lionel’s main reason for moving was that the maintenance of his previous home had become too much. Having worked in the construction industry for over 30 years, Lionel had done all the work he could to the house. There was always something that needed doing. 

“It goes without saying that the old house had started to depreciate and was costing me a lot of money to keep fixing it”, says Lionel.

“My son and daughter both live miles away so really if I wanted something repairing I had to do it myself or hire a window cleaner, gardener, handy-man; and it was eating a real hole in my pocket.”

I wish I made the move sooner

Lionel had started to wish he’d made the move sooner and when he was in better health. He didn’t want to delay things any more than he needed to, so decided to use McCarthy and Stone’s part exchange scheme, which meant he wasn’t reliant on a buyer or didn’t have any stressful chains to deal with when it came to sell.

Lionel comments: “You have to weigh up what’s most important to you. If you’re after a quick move there is nothing more satisfying than someone taking all the hassle of estate agents away; that can do all the moving for you and take a lot of that worry off your shoulders. 

“I feel like I got a fair price for all the additional help I received, and for the lack of worry during what was a big event in my life having not moved for over 50 years, well, you can’t put a price on that.”

Danielle Piggott, Sales Consultant for Goldwyn House, comments: “I love being involved from the start to the finish of a homeowner’s journey. It is so rewarding that my job gives me the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of people like Lionel, and which makes a real difference to their wellbeing.”

For more information about Retirement Living Plus, please contact McCarthy and Stone on 0800 201 4811 or visit  

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