Pat and Michael

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Being surrounded by a wonderful group of friends and supportive staff has exceeded Michael and Pat’s expectations since they moved to The Woodlands in August 2022.

Having spent 41 years in their family home, the couple decided to move to a ground floor apartment and to enjoy the thriving community without the worries of maintaining a big house and garden.

The early years

By the time they met, when they were 27 years old, Michael and Pat had both enjoyed adventures abroad.

Michael said: “When I was 10, my family moved to Egypt. My father was in the army there, so I went to a boarding school near Cairo. We went out in 1948 and came home in 1952. After that I was educated at Chorlton Grammar School and then became a police cadet. Before I was old enough to join the police, I went to Southern Rhodesia because you could join the police there at 18 and you had to be 19 to join the police in this country.”

Michael spent five and a half years in the police force there.

“I did my initial training in Rhodesia over six months. I learned how to ride a motorcycle, how to drive a Land Rover and how to ride a horse. I was then told I’d be going on patrol. That patrol lasted for six months! I set off on my horse with my sergeant and two constables, plus six pack donkeys carrying our equipment and tents. I had all sorts of interesting experiences from dealing with witch doctors, to rogue elephants and even a hippopotamus!”

When they first met, Pat was teaching at a Royal Navy school in Malta.

Michael said: “I was a policeman in Wythenshawe and the police officers used to organise regular dinners with the local midwives at the nurses’ home. I met Pat at one of these dos.”

Pat said: “I was on holiday, visiting a friend who was a midwife. I met Michael on the Saturday and then I flew back to Malta on the Monday. We wrote to each other at least two or three times a week. We still have all the letters!

“I should have done three years’ teaching there, but I did two years and a term because we thought if anything’s going to come of this relationship, we’ve got to give it our best shot. When I came home from Malta, we got engaged and then six months later we got married and lived in a flat in Stretford for a year before we moved to Bramhall.”

British Empire Medal

Michael and Pat lived in their three bedroomed house in Bramhall for 12 years. During that time, they had their two daughters and Michael was awarded the British Empire Medal for his community work in the Moss Side area.

Michael said: “After working in CID, I moved to traffic policing and when they introduced accident prevention, I started going into schools with Basil Brush. I was popular with the children and in the 1970s, was asked to start ‘community contact’ for the force in Greater Manchester in Moss Side. The kids knew me already, so I was going around the schools running projects to enhance police and community relations.

“I set up three or four youth clubs and involved the parents and local police officers. Over the years, I took thousands of children on day trips and did various projects with schools and in 1981 I was awarded the British Empire Medal. I retired in 1989.”

Pat said: “I retired around the same time. I’d had about four years off when our two daughters were little but then I’d gone back to teaching 4–7-year-olds. I taught at Cheadle Catholic Infants for the last 12 years of my career.”

Michael said: “When I retired, I started to teach Bridge. I had six classes a week and ran eight holidays a year, two abroad and six in this country. I did that from 1990 and I finished in about 2015.

“I still run a class every Monday morning in Bramhall. In fact, one of the teachers who I worked with in the 1970s is now 93 and still comes to my class every Monday. I took my next-door neighbour from The Woodlands last week and my next-door-but-one neighbour is coming next week. “

Deciding to move

Before moving to The Woodlands, Michael and Pat had lived in Bramhall for 53 years, and they had been living in their four bedroomed detached house for 41 years.

Pat said: “Our house was getting too big, and the cleaning was too much. It was new when we moved into it, but things needed renewing every so often. When we had to empty the kitchen to have it decorated or to regrout, it was all just a bit too much. We had a big garden too and that was getting too big for us really.”

Michael and Pat had almost decided to move to another Adlington Retirement Living community in Cheadle a few years previously.

Pat said: “Our good friends were going to move there but decided not to, so we started looking around at private apartments in Bramhall. I didn’t want us to be in a flat, on our own, shut off from the world and we didn’t see anything that we liked, so we forgot about it.

“Then this year, our same friends came to see The Woodlands. When they decided to buy here, they invited us to coffee mornings and a Jubilee luncheon, so we came to a lot of things. My husband was bowled over and he wanted to move here.”

Moving to a ground floor apartment, with no stairs and help on hand had become more important to both Michael and Pat.

Michael said: “We had a beautiful garden and a big greenhouse at the end. I could foresee my wife going into the greenhouse and taking a tumble and going right through the glass. It was an accident waiting to happen. Also, I had been very poorly this year in February and wasn’t expected to live. Thankfully, I recovered and I’m here today. But when I came home, I was in a hospital bed downstairs in our house in Bramhall with carers and nurses, and I had to learn to walk again.”

Pat said: “I’d had a couple of falls before we decided to move. The first one was in 2020. I fainted and cracked my ribs. That took ages to heal. Then on another occasion in the same year, I fell in the garden and dislocated two of the vertebrae in my neck.

“I had another fall this year when I was gardening and hurt my leg. It took 12 weeks to heal with a nurse dressing it. That was after Mike’s illness in February, so we had a bit of a bad year. Mike thought moving here would be ideal. We’ll be on the flat and if one of us is ill, the other one can eat in the restaurant.

“My most recent fall happened just a few weeks ago, thankfully after we had moved. We were at the supermarket, and as I stepped off the escalator I fell and broke my femur. It was horrible. I was in hospital for three weeks and I now have a dynamic screw in my leg with a plate. Thank goodness we’d already moved here because if I’d still been at our previous house, I couldn’t manage stairs or anything like that and it would have been a repeat of what my husband had in February with everything having to be set up downstairs for me.

“The thing we liked most about our apartment was the space and the fact that it opens out onto the garden. Although there are good lifts here, we like the fact that it’s on the ground floor because of my falls but also because we love the garden. The apartments upstairs have a nice view and a balcony to step out onto, but we’ve got our patio and we can walk straight out and sit in the sunshine or walk around the paths in the communal gardens and go to see the vegetable gardens and things like that.

Michael said: “We haven’t done any gardening here yet but as I get better, next year, I will hopefully grow some tomatoes and maybe a cucumber and we have certain plants that we’re going to bring up and have on our patio.”

Community spirit

Since their move, the combination of supportive staff and lovely neighbours has made a real difference to both Pat and Michael.

Pat said: “The whole set up here is so well run. I just can’t believe how settled I feel now that we’re here.”

Michael said: “The staff are lovely and caring. I can’t speak too highly of them. They always ask if everything’s alright and if there’s anything I need. They’re all great.”

Pat said: “When I came back from hospital they popped in and they gave me a hug and they said they’d been so worried about me. If I could have handpicked all the people who work here, they would be this team.”

Pat said: “Our neighbours are all lovely too. One lady who lives here baked a traybake and gave it to Mike and he brought it into hospital. Two of the waitresses sent me a card and a box of biscuits. Another lady who lives here gave me a plant. They’re just lovely people. I can’t believe how lucky we are. Both staff and neighbours.”

Enjoying an active social life

Since moving to The Woodlands, Michael and Pat have continued their active social lives.

Pat said: “It’s nice that there are all these activities going on that you can get involved with if you want to. There are just lovely things going on all the time. We have quiz nights, film nights, take-away meal nights, we bring in fish & chips.

“I’m joining a weekly art class here on a Monday afternoon in the activity room. I used to paint a bit. There’s also a book club and we’re talking about going out to the theatre sometime. It’s just lovely.”

Their family are regular visitors to The Woodlands too.

“We’re having Christmas Day here. The family are all coming here for Christmas. Both daughters and our son-in-law, our granddaughter and grandson, my brother and his wife and us two. We’ll have Christmas dinner in the restaurant and then come back to our apartment to do presents.”

With a combination of old friends and new, Michael and Pat have been thoroughly enjoying the sense of community at The Woodlands.

Pat said: “In a house you might not see many people whereas here if I’m busy doing jobs, Mike might just say he’s popping down to the lounge and he comes back having bumped into friends. It’s really brilliant. There’s a real sense of community. Everybody’s so nice to each other. There’s nothing I don’t like about living here.”

Michael said: “We knew we’d enjoy it, but we didn’t think it was going to be as good as this. It’s everything that I expected and more.”

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