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Everybody Finds Good Neighbours

Ollie Parker

Ollie Parker

Author

Lifestyle

Expectations are revisited at two McCarthy & Stone properties in Retirement homes in Yorkshire, where you can findfriendship, fine food and plenty of humour

Joining homeowners for a coffee morning at one of McCarthy & Stone’s developments is like being allowed into a unique club: the welcome is warm, the conversations interesting and there are more than enough drinks and cakes to go round. 

It is hard to believe that Ryebeck Court, set in the picturesque market town
of Pickering on the edge
of the majestic North Yorkshire moors, only recently celebrated its first birthday. The friendships between the individuals and couples who live here would appear to have been forged many years ago, yet some have known each other just a matter of months. 

“I put it down to the fact that we’re all such like-minded people,” says Elizabeth Pearson, 72, who moved into a two- bedroom apartment last September with her husband Michael, 74, a retired businessman. 

Fine food at our retirement apartments

“We might be retired, but we all still expect a great deal out of life. We want
to socialise and devote time to enjoying ourselves rather than worrying about keeping on top of the garden or when the next cold caller is going to knock. 

Party Time - There’s always an excuse to socialise 

“Living here is like having a buffer between you and the hassles of everyday life – it feels very much like being part of a gated community, with security and a great social life, combined perfectly with the privacy of having your own apartment.” 

High Quality 

Ryebeck Court is one
of McCarthy & Stone’s Retirement Living developments. Aimed at people over 60, it offers the convenience of living in a safe and secure environment while being somewhere you can choose to socialise with fellow homeowners in the beautifully decorated communal lounge, or enjoy the tranquility of your own luxury apartment. 

Thanks to top-quality double glazing, the apartments are supremely peaceful and relaxing. Sunlight streams through well-proportioned windows into rooms that feel light and airy. The good-sized living rooms easily accommodate enough furniture to make them feel homely but not cluttered, and there is plenty of space for a table and chairs where you can enjoy your home cooking. 

The kitchens have high- quality appliances with the convenience of an oven at waist height along with a large, fitted upright fridge- freezer. The kitchens I saw enjoyed views across the well-kept gardens that surround the development. Each bedroom features either a walk-in wardrobe or one that is fitted with smooth, sliding doors. The bathrooms – there are two in the two-bedroom apartments and one in those with a single bedroom – are practical yet stylish and many have walk-in showers. Julie Middleton is the customer service executive at Ryebeck Court and says that specifications can be tweaked, particularly for those buying off -plan. 

“Even if someone buys a finished apartment there
 is the flexibility to get the place just how they want it,” she says. 
One of Middleton’s roles is to help homeowners settle in to their new homes; many have moved out of large properties where they may have lived for decades. 
“It’s an enormous undertaking to downsize from a large family home and I relish the challenge
of helping our customers do that, if they want me to,”
she says. “We provide a full moving package – right down to decluttering if customers feel it’ll be helpful. Some simply label up everything in their home with stickers we give them, saying whether an item is coming here, going to the charity shop or simply being disposed of and then our removals firm does the rest. 

“We can even arrange for everything to be unpacked at this end, but many people enjoy doing that themselves.” 

Good times with family and friends

New Friendships

Clifford Hughes, 87, and his wife Lena, 86, became the first couple to move into the development last April. Clifford insists this was the best move they could have made at this stage of their lives. 

“We love it here,” he
says. “When the time came to move out of our rather large home a few miles away we looked at retirement properties all over the country but nothing felt quite right. 
“Then we heard about this place, which is in such a beautiful location and close to our lovely friends
– we had a look and something just clicked. Our only regret was not being able to bring our friends with us, but they often visit. And we’ve gone on to make so many new friendships among our neighbours.” 
Hughes says that he and Lena had reached a point where their home felt like an enormous burden to them. “We were living in
 a property so rambling that it didn’t feel like home any more,” he says. 
“It was just an awful lot of hard work and with so much room we were clattering around in it. Now we have just the right amount of space and I
 can enjoy the pleasure of 
a garden without having to put any work into it. 

“Here we find ourselves in the greatest place with the greatest neighbours. Most people join in with the social side of things – but of course we respect those who don’t want that.” Hughes, a retired engineer, and Lena, who used to be a doctor’s receptionist, particularly enjoy the twice-weekly lm nights in the lounge. Elizabeth and Michael Pearson also take great interest in whatever social events are taking place. 

“We have keep- fit classes in here, carpet bowls and regularly use this space 
to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries,” says Pearson. 

The Pearsons have a background in catering. “When word got out about that we soon had neighbours sidling up to us wondering whether we might put on the food for events and celebrations,” Elizabeth says. Pearson says that an unexpected pleasure to come out of moving to Ryebeck Court is the opportunity to learn about other people’s lives. “We have so many wonderful personal stories to share,” he says. “I never tire of learning about the lives of my neighbours and it’s not about boasting, ‘Oh, I did this or I did that.’ It’s simply that conversations seem to gently turn into anecdotes that are as enjoyable for the person who’s telling them as they are for the listeners.” 

“I jumped at the chance and I really do love having the opportunity to carry on with that side of my life in such an informal way.
 I make great use of the kitchen that runs off the lounge – we’re so lucky with the facilities here.” Pearson says that an unexpected pleasure to come out of moving to Ryebeck Court is the opportunity to learn about other people’s lives. “We have so many wonderful personal stories to share,” he says. “I never tire of learning about the lives of my neighbours and it’s not about boasting, ‘Oh, I did this or I did that.’ It’s simply that conversations seem to gently turn into anecdotes that are as enjoyable for the person who’s telling them as they are for the listeners.” 
As well as socialising in the lounge, neighbours often meet in the foyer to go off into the local town together for externally run clubs and events. “And we make great use of the patio outside when the weather is good, sharing the odd bottle of wine and plenty of laughter,” Elizabeth says. 
“People have this misconception that if you buy into retirement living you’re moving into an
 old folk’s home, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re a diverse bunch who get on famously and enjoy living with a little luxury at a point in our lives where we feel we deserve it. 

“Honestly, most days I feel as if I’m on holiday.” 

Dining in at an Assisted Living development

On-Site Support

At McCarthy & Stone’s Assisted Living developments staff are available all day, every day. In these properties, new homeowners are asked before they move in whether they are happy for staff to call round at their apartment if they haven’t been seen or heard from throughout the day. “We don’t do this in an intrusive way,” says Kelly Worgan, estate manager at Thackrah Court, an Assisted Living development for the over-70s in Leeds, where support is always on hand. “We just get to know everyone so well here that we soon get a sense when something might not be quite right. “It’s very reassuring both for homeowners and their loved ones to know that there is always someone here, looking out for them, 24 hours a day.” The gardens at Thackrah Court are delightful. Great swathes of lavender and miniature roses meet with huge clumps of ornate hydrangea. The lawns are neatly edged and there isn’t a weed in sight.

Boredom Banished 

Homeowners Professor Michael Woolfson, 89, and his wife Margaret, 87, recently enjoyed their 65th wedding anniversary with family and friends in one of the two communal lounges at the development, which has a terrace leading out into the gardens. 

“It’s a lovely space to entertain in,” says Prof Woolfson, a scientist and author. “At other times we have lm nights in there and people often play bridge. There’s a book club and exercise classes – there’s no need to be bored. “Life can become rather lonely when you get older, particularly if you aren’t terribly mobile. And the great thing about this place is you get to spend plenty of time with people like yourself and it gives you quite a boost.” 

“A large proportion
of our neighbours have professional backgrounds,” Margaret says. “We have people with commercial backgrounds, and doctors for example. There’s always someone interesting to talk to, and if you want peace and quiet then you simply go back to your home.” 

Prof Woolfson has a health condition that requires careful attention to diet. “Before we moved in, the chef called to reassure me that very special efforts would be taken on my behalf, and they have been. The staff all look out for us as though we’re members of their own family. It really is a lovely place to live.” 

 

Margaret adds: “Our children are so pleased to know how well cared for we are, while we get to enjoy our independence, which
is so important to us. Life really is very good here.” 
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