John and Margaret

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Before moving to The Woodlands in May 2022, John and Margaret had lived in their family house in Heald Green for 47 years. They decided to move to a retirement community whilst they are relatively young, to future-proof their later life.

The early years

John and Margaret met when they were teenagers and will have been married for 53 years in January.

Margaret said: “John’s sister was my best friend when I was about 14 years old. We started to go out with each other when I was 15 and John was 18 and we got married three years later.

“We put a deposit on a two-bedroomed semi-detached bungalow in Little Lever before we got married. Our next house was a three-bedroomed Dorma bungalow in Denton, where we had Helen, our first daughter, and then we moved to our last house in Heald Green and Elizabeth, our second daughter, was born.”

John had started his career as an apprentice with British Telecom before moving on to Royal Mail where he worked for 10 years.

John said: “Locally I became involved in the Trade Union. From about 1980 I had a regional position and in 1985 I had a national position in London that lasted 10 years. I was then offered a job working for Royal Mail headquarters and stayed there until 2003.”

Margaret said: “John mainly worked in London, so he lived there during the week and came home at weekends. I was teaching full time and bringing up our two daughters. I taught every age group from 4 to 11, then became a Deputy Headteacher, and then I was a Headteacher in Cheshire for 10 years until I took early retirement at 55.”

John took voluntary redundancy from Royal Mail in 2003 but rather than retiring, decided to work for John Lewis for 13 years more years so he ‘retired properly’ when he was 68.

Deciding to move

Margaret said: “We’d lived in our house for 47 years and had spent a lot of money on it. It was a three-double-bedroomed detached house with a fair-sized garden. We’d had three or four kitchens and bathrooms and I’d reached the point where I thought ‘I’m not prepared to spend any more money on this house’ because we wouldn’t get it back. It was 62 years old, so it was going to need a new roof and pointing. We were already paying for a gardener. I just didn’t want the hassle of it all. It was a burden for me, worrying about it.”

“I was the one who wanted to move. John didn’t initially. I have some health issues which are not causing me a problem at the moment, but I feel that they will do, or may do, at some point in the future and I just don’t want to wait until a crisis happens.

“I’m losing my sight. I could have gone round my other house with my eyes closed. I knew it very well. But it was a big house and there were stairs and all the repairs. I didn’t want all of that. So, I need to get settled and get very familiar with my surroundings because I never know when my sight’s going to go. That’s the reason that we’re doing it at 74 and 71, when we’re relatively young, but I’m thinking ahead.”

John said: “Originally, I was a bit apprehensive about moving. I just said let’s leave it for five years. I now think, having done the move, that we did it at the right time.”

Margaret was keen to think about the future and to maintain her independence.

Margaret said: “I have an elderly mother who is nearly 96 and she sold her house 20 years ago and bought a first floor flat without a lift. It’s just an ordinary flat, it’s not in a community like this and now she needs a lot of help. She can still live in her own place, but she can’t cope with the stairs. I’m just thinking, I don’t want to be in that situation.

“This allows you to stay independent for longer. I didn’t want to have somebody else make my decisions in a crisis. I wanted to know that I can be here with some support if necessary. At the moment, thank goodness, we don’t need it. We’re fit and healthy.”

Community spirit

With bean to cup fresh coffee available in the coffee bar, The Woodlands is a hive of activity most mornings as homeowners enjoy meeting their neighbours or family and friends to catch up. Margaret and John were already good friends with some of their new neighbours.

Margaret said: “I was thinking of the future when we bought here, but actually, we’re really enjoying the present. The people here are such good company. We have a great community. Everyone helps and supports each other, and we all get on very well.

“We’ve got friends who have moved here too. I brought my friend Bess here to have a look and while she was looking at the one-bedroomed apartments, I looked at the two-bedroomed apartments. Afterwards, I went home and said to John ‘that’s the one. I want to move there’ and for the first time ever, he just said ‘ok’. I’d been talking about this for years and years. And we came back together and bought straight away.

“And then, I said I know who’ll want this when they see it and that’s our friends Mike and Pat. Sure enough, when they came, Mike said ‘I want one’ and they have moved here too. So, we already have a little friendship group. Living in the same building as your friends is really good, and then we’ve also made new friends. It’s a great little community.”

Location, location, location

The location was important to John and Margaret too.

Margaret said: “John grew up in Didsbury which is just up the road and his brothers and sister all live in this area, so we know the area well.”

John said: “One of the things that’s a massive positive for The Woodlands is the location. It’s seconds away from the metro, you’ve got two buses that go to Stockport, and you’ve got a direct bus to the Trafford Centre. We have one car between us now and I sometimes take the bus to go to Cheadle Golf Club or to meet up with friends. It’s like the centre of the universe here. Everything is well connected.”

Margaret said: “Knowing that I won’t be able to drive in the future, having good transport links was a big factor for me. Having the metro, in particular, means I can get anywhere in Manchester.”

Living life to the full

Margaret and John have always enjoyed travelling the world from Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and India to Africa, America and the Caribbean.

Margaret said: “I’ve got age-related macular degeneration and I’ve had it for a long time. About 16 years, so I had it quite young really. There is no cure for it. You don’t know when you’ll lose your sight. It could be tomorrow, or it could be in 10 years.

“We’ve travelled a lot and made sure that we’ve seen everything we want to see. We came back from a cruise on the Doro, in Portugal, a week ago and we had a cruise to Iceland in June. We love travelling so the ability to lock up and leave our apartment, and not have to worry about an empty property is another benefit.”

Safety and security

Margaret and John have also been impressed with the added peace of mind that moving to a retirement community provides.

Margaret said: “I do love the safety aspect here. I feel very safe. In fact, when we first moved here, I started to sleep a lot better.”

John said: “We have these alarm systems that you can press if you get into difficulty. We don’t wear ours yet, but I accidentally set one off. You don’t hear anything because it’s a silent alarm but within two or three minutes somebody was at the front door to make sure everything was ok. So, the system is first class. I was really impressed.”

Margaret said: “In the past, my mum’s fallen on the floor and been there for hours. One of us goes every day but it could have been nine or ten hours before we found her.

“It’s good that we know we have everything in place for the future. I do think a lot of people go into old age thinking that they’re going to be exactly the same as they were. The fact is, something will go wrong with all of us at some point in the future.”

Activities and facilities

John and Margaret have been enjoying the variety of activities and events on offer at The Woodlands.

Margaret said: “John’s always been pretty sociable. He likes to go out and he plays golf twice a week, but I’ve always been a bit of a loner and I don’t think that’s particularly healthy as you get older. Since we moved here, I’ve been enjoying joining in with things. I don’t do everything. There are times when I still enjoy my own space.”

John said: “You’ve got the options. You can turn out or you can decide not to. Our neighbours are all good people, so they don’t worry if you don’t want to go to everything. There’s no pressure, it’s just great to see each other when we do.”

Margaret said: “You can pick and choose. I love a quiz night and scrabble and things like that. There’s lots going on socially. There’s a quiz night once a fortnight. We had cheese and wine last week. We’ve had about three or four film nights. I’ve started going to keep fit. I go every Friday and then sometimes on a Wednesday too.”

Margaret said: “I looked at various retirement communities and Adlington Retirement Living was by far the superior one. I was impressed by the quality of the build and the facilities.

“The restaurant for me is vitally important. I have cooked every meal for nearly 53 years and although I can cook and I’m a good cook, I’ve had enough. When I knew there was a restaurant here I thought ‘thank goodness!’. We use it every day. We have a cooked lunch, or if we’re going out for the day, we have a cooked breakfast and then I do a sandwich or something like that for tea. The quality of the food is good and it’s really good value – £4.25 for a two course meal. It’s fantastic. We have friends and family come here for lunch with us a lot.”

Margaret and John have also been enjoying not having to worry about gardening.

Margaret said: “We really don’t like gardening, but we enjoy having a beautiful garden to sit in that’s been maintained by somebody else. This year we had a lovely hot summer and we regularly ate outside. It was like being on holiday. We sat around the table with our friends and said it’s just like being in Majorca. Out came the Sangria and it was lovely.

“We had a garden party too in the summer and that was really nice. Adlington put that on with a jazz band and a BBQ and drinks.”

“I’d say to anybody thinking about moving to a retirement community, if you’re going to think of it at all in the future, do it now. Don’t wait. You want to enjoy the facilities that are available while you’re still able to. I love it here. I really do. I say it almost on a daily basis! I have no regrets whatsoever.”

 

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