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The Teams Behind the Scenes

Mark Gale

Mark Gale

Author

Lifestyle

McCarthy & Stone has a vast team working round the clock to make sure that every homeowner in every development receives the best of the best. Here, we talk to three of the key players...

The go-to person

Jennifer Taylor (pictured above) has been House Manager at Avalon Court in Lincoln since it opened in 2010, making sure everything runs smoothly.

My working day varies hugely. I have two blocks here with 65 homeowners, so I go around and check all the communal areas and do my checklists: fire alarm, household jobs, etc, and talk to our cleaners and maintenance team about any jobs that need doing. There’s a lot to do, so it helps if you can multitask! I ring all my homeowners who are living alone every day to see if everything is okay with them. I owned my own residential home for 18 years, then retired to Spain. But I got itchy feet to work again, saw an advert for this job – and here I am!

I help homeowners with everything, from practical concerns to bigger worries. We’ve had a few bereavements recently, so I’ll point people in the direction of bereavement counselling and make sure they get the support they need. Because I’ve been here for seven years, I can tell when people need help. Some people may require extra personal care, so I’ll help organise that for them.

We have loads of activities here. Everything from bowls evenings to knit-and-natter sessions and charity events. Homeowners arrange a lot of charity events and get-togethers themselves, from meals out to outings. Some people don’t want to socialise loads, and that’s fine, too.

My job is so rewarding. Homeowners show me their appreciation as their House Manager. That makes me feel really special and it’s a pleasure to come to work. The company is so professional – there's always someone there for support.

The food supremo

Lorna Mould started as a chef, then became Chef Manager at the Farringford Court development in Lymington. She is now Developments Area Manager.

Food is my passion. I was a chef in restaurants and hotels and other developments before I came here.

I normally start work at about 7am. We offer a three-course lunch every day in the development dining room and afternoon tea in the lounge with home-made cakes. A lot of homeowners like the freedom of not having to cook or do the washing-up. I could be looking at meal plans with the chefs or helping to manage a special event, anniversary or party. I worked with a team to create a buffet for homeowners at our Poundbury development when the Queen visited the town.

We change the menu every season. We’ll be serving strawberries and cream during Wimbledon week, of course! We source mainly local products, and we work with the company nutritionist to plan healthy menus.

We listen to what homeowners want. Some developments have three roast dinners a week because that’s what the homeowners have asked for. We cater for everyone, from vegetarians to diabetics and those with a food allergy or intolerance. We also have an option for a lighter meal, so the menus are quite varied.

Mr Fix-it

It’s the job of McCarthy & Stone’s Management Services (MSMS) Operations Director, David Hockaday, based at head office in Bournemouth, to make sure that everything across the developments runs like clockwork.

I have a pretty wide remit. I’m a building surveyor by profession, so I oversee the property management side of McCarthy & Stone, looking after all the servicing and maintenance requirements – from ensuring security systems are working, to major works. I handle the building insurance side, and the operational side, making sure the team delivers a good service. I also look after the HR function – they support our operations team in training, etc.

We have over 427 lifts throughout our developments. They are important to many of our homeowners, so we monitor them every day. And we ensure all services, such as fire alarms, our response system and lifts are working properly.

My working day varies. I have team meetings and meetings with outside consultants, such as insurers and utility providers. We have saved our homeowners over £350,000 in the last 12 months by negotiating better utility rates. We spend a lot of time making sure we get the best value for our homeowners, from window cleaning to utilities.

I really like going to new developments as part of the handover process. I think we build some stunning properties, such as Poole Horizons, with its wonderful harbour views. I also enjoy talking homeowners through planned future refurbishments.

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