Having moved to a McCarthy & Stone development, many homeowners feel they’ve had a new lease of life. Rachel Halliwell speaks to three of them
Whenever Jillian and David Peckham’s grown-up daughters come on an overnight visit, they say it’s like being on holiday. Their room is cleaned and their sheets freshly laundered, yet their parents haven’t had to lift a finger.
That’s because the Peckhams own a McCarthy & Stone apartment, which means their overnight visitors have access to a luxurious, hotel-style guest suite at their Hillier Court development in Hampshire.
“We don’t have to worry about the hassle of keeping a guest bedroom for occasional visitors,” explains Jillian, 79, a retired executive PA.
“We can just enjoy their company, without any of the hard work you normally associate with having people over to stay. And that’s just one of a very long list of ways life has become so much easier since we moved here.”
This is the Peckhams’ second McCarthy & Stone apartment – they felt undaunted by the move from West Sussex to Romsey because they’d done it once before and knew how easy it was.
“We made the first move because we were keen to travel more, and wanted to be able to lock up our home and just leave without the worry of what might happen to our property while we were gone,” explains David, 85, a retired managing director of an engineering company.
“We were living in a fairly large bungalow on the South Downs, which meant we had many chores to worry about: gardening, hedge cutting, cleaning out gutters and a fair number of rooms to clean.
“We were in a hilly location, and really wanted to get on the flat. Also, we wanted to be on a bus route so that if and when the time comes that we have to pack up driving we’re still able to get about. And there were no shops within walking distance, which again could have become a problem if eventually we weren’t able to drive.”
It felt important to the couple that they stayed in control of their living environment and the next stage of retirement.
“We were both in good health, but we were asking ourselves that question: when will the right time be to make that next move?” explains Jillian. “The last thing we wanted was to put it off and put it off until suddenly something happened and things had to be done in a rush, with possibly other people making decisions for us. We wanted to be the ones in control.
“We speak to so many people now who say they wish they’d made the move sooner, and we certainly don’t have any regrets since making this move. Life is simple now. We don’t have to worry about maintenance issues, there’s less cleaning, we feel extremely safe and we know that when we go on holiday our home is secure.
“And the support we had with the move itself meant everything went incredibly smoothly with very little stress.”
Help at Hand
One aspect of life as McCarthy & Stone homeowners that adds to the couple’s sense of safety is having access to a 24-hour care line, meaning they can summon help in an emergency.
Says Jillian: “A year after we moved in we needed that care line urgently, and they didn’t let us down. One lunchtime I found David slumped in his armchair and my first thought was ‘heart attack’. I pulled the cord and within a minute was speaking to someone who could help me. They told me to wedge the door open, hang on the line, keep David awake and they’d get an ambulance sent straight over.
“It was all so quick. If I’d had to dial 999 myself it would have taken much longer, but as it was they knew exactly who was calling because all our details came straight up on screen. I feel so very grateful we had that.”
Thankfully, David made an excellent recovery. Both he and Jillian are enthusiastic members of their development’s social committee, arranging regular events and trips out. “It’s another element of what makes life here so enjoyable,” adds Jillian.
An active social life is one of the many features that make life in her home at Conachar Court, Perth, so fulfilling for Elizabeth Foster, 79, who was widowed six years ago (pictured above, with her pet dog).
“I love all the face-to-face contact I have every single day,” she says. “In my old house I had lovely neighbours but I rarely saw them because they were all so busy. I only got to chat to them if they happened to be out in their garden when I was out in mine, which wasn’t often.
“Here I have so many lovely friends and we enjoy spending time together in the homeowners’ lounge. It’s lovely, like something you’d find in a luxurious hotel.”
Sense of Community
“It’s nice, too, that if you haven’t been noticed around the place for a couple of days someone will knock on your door and check you’re okay. If someone’s unwell we rally round them, picking up shopping and helping however we can. There’s a lovely sense of community.”
Elizabeth was living alone in a large property before she moved here. “It was a lovely house but too big,” she says. “It was such hard work to keep on top of everything.
“One day I came to visit a friend who’d moved here and before I’d even got to her apartment I was so impressed with the development I asked to see one of the show rooms. Twenty minutes later I’d signed for one myself.
“My only regret since moving in is that I didn’t do it sooner. I love my life here, and my family doesn’t have to worry about whether I’m safe or lonely – they know I couldn’t be happier.
“I enjoy trips out with my friends – we even have keep-fit classes here each week, where the oldest lady who attends is 94. We all feel so very lucky to have our homes in such a safe and friendly environment.”