John and Jean were finding their five bedroom house and big garden difficult to maintain. They wanted to spend less time and energy on gardening, cleaning and DIY and more time going out and doing things.
John and Jean met at a cycling dance in 1959, three years after John had brought home a bronze medal for Team GB at the 1956 Olympics.
Jean, an accomplished dancer and member of TV’s famous Billy Martin team, forgave John his ‘two left feet’ and the couple married in 1962.
Having lived in their family home for 46 years, they recently decided to move to a retirement living community.
The couple had brought up their three children in their five-bedroom home in Widnes and whilst the decision to downsize was a tough one, their big house and large garden had become too much and they decided to start their property search.
“We were living in a massive five bedroom, two bathroom house and it was just getting too much for Jean” says John, now 83.
“I couldn’t do much and she was doing all the work. She didn’t realise but she would come in of a night and she was exhausted.”
Jean explains: “I was never done. There was always something to do. It was a big garden and I was doing everything. I was out all afternoon and half the night. I used to come in for Escape to the Country, have a coffee and go out again.”
When the couple painted the exterior of their house, two years before they moved, it had cost them £5000 due to the size of the house and the scaffolding required. Even the indoor cleaning was hard to maintain with eight-foot-high ceilings. The maintenance of the house and garden was becoming a full-time job for Jean and left her with no time or energy to do anything else: “I didn’t want to be tied to the house. I wanted to go out and do things.”
John and Jean had initially looked at a retirement community two years earlier but had decided they weren’t ready to move. When they visited The Sailings, a new luxury development from Adlington Retirement Living in Southport, John said they made their decision straight away:
“A friend of mine lives in Maghull and we saw an advertisement for The Sailings in the local paper. We’d been to see an apartment that our friend was looking at and it was a nice place, but we wanted somewhere with a bit more community, where we can go down to the lounge and talk to people. I came in to see Karen and she took me round and I knew right away that I wanted it.”
Having lived in Ormskirk before they moved to Widnes John and Jean already had some friends in the local area. Jean’s two sisters also live nearby in Ainsdale but Jean thought the hardest part of moving after 46 years would be making new friends and building a new social life. “I like people” Jean explains.
Soon after moving, they’ve already got a busy social life: “I’m making friends here. I do a lot myself. I go swimming, I go to Chi Ball – it’s T’ai Chi with a bit of Pilates and a bit of Yoga. I go out and join things so I’m helping myself. I go to the church every Sunday morning and I walk into town. We’re getting a pilates class here soon. When the weather gets better we’ll go out on our bikes together.”
John adds: “She goes once a fortnight to Knit and Natter in the lounge and they never stop. They’re chatting and chatting away. I’m doing my jigsaw here and she’s happy! We had a coffee morning the other day and all the new neighbours came and she was chatting away to them all. I think it’s really good here.”
They’ve also entertained some of their friends and family in their new home.
“Our youngest daughter Rachael, lives in Brighton now and she came for Christmas with her son Luca who’s 11, and her partner Martyn. They stayed in the guest suite here and they’re coming again this weekend.
“Helen, our middle daughter lives in the Wirral and she came last weekend with her husband, David. Their children, Oliver and Philippa came up here the day we were moving in and the restaurant here made us a lovely dinner.
“Our son, Martin, lives in Perth in Australia now, so he comes back to visit every three years.”
They’ve also had some old friends come to visit them.
John: “I had three blokes come across yesterday who all used to ride bikes with me. One was 88, one was 83, and one was 82 and we came and sat in the lounge, had a good talk, had some light bites in the restaurant, finished talking and they all went home. They’re all friends from way back.
“It’s better for both of us here. I can go cycling. Jean can walk to the shops, use her bike and go for a ride if she wants to and there are plenty of people here who she can talk to. We’ve made friends already and I can tell they’re going to be like a second family. We should have moved years ago.”