Pam and Mike (and Honey the dog)

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When Pam and Mike started looking at retirement communities, finding somewhere pet-friendly was an absolute must.

Pam and Mike met for a drink in 1998 and have been together ever since.

They had both worked at Royds Advertising Group in the 1970s, which later merged with McCann-Erickson and became the second biggest advertising agency in the UK.

Pam said: “I worked there for four years and then lived abroad in the States and Hong Kong until 1989.”

Mike said: “I worked at McCanns for 42 years from 1958 to 2000. My marriage had broken down in the mid 1980s, and one of my colleagues at work mentioned that Pam was back in the country and that she had lost her husband the previous year. The last time I’d seen Pam was in 1976 but I decided to call her. We met for a drink, and we’ve been together ever since.

“We both kept our own homes. I used to go and see Pam two or three times a week in Prestbury, but it was a 15-mile trek each way. A lot of Pam’s friends and neighbours were either moving on or had passed on, and she was feeling a bit isolated.”

Pam said: “I have a problem with my eyes and I was going to have to stop driving sooner or later and there are not many shops in Prestbury.”

Finding the right retirement community

Mike said: “We started looking around at retirement living communities about 18 months to two years ago. We went to see three or four, but the majority of them didn’t take pets and one of the main requirements from both our points of view was to be able to bring Honey, our dog.”

Mike and Pam have had Honey, a miniature Labradoodle, for eight and a half years.

Mike said: “I’d never had a dog before I met Pam. I loved animals but I’d never had time. We chose her together. We picked her up as a puppy from Southport. She lay on Pam’s knee all the way back. She was amazing. She was good as gold.”

Pam said: “She’s Honey II. Before her, we had a rescue Labrador that we had for five years from 2009, she was Honey I. I’ve always had dogs apart from when I was in the States. Honey II is a very good dog. She’s definitely part of the family. Everybody here seems to like her. She goes down in the lift with me. She got used to that straight away. We take her for nice long walks and there are lots of good places for that around here.”

When choosing The Woodlands, being pet friendly was the top priority, but Pam and Mike were also impressed with the apartments, the facilities and the community spirit.

Mike said: “In general, this was head and shoulders above the other retirement communities we looked at in quality and design. It’s just superior in every way. The team who work here are very accommodating.”

Pam said: “I liked the apartment straight away. It’s on the first floor and it’s really close to a lift that takes you to the front door, which is good for taking Honey out. We also have a lovely view of the gardens.”

Value for money

Mike said: “I think one of the perceptions of retirement living communities is that the service charge is expensive. There’s a tendency to look at it in isolation as a charge that you didn’t pay before, but when you sit down and work out all the different services that you paid for at home, it’s actually not bad.”

Pam said: “I had a gardener and a cleaner before I moved.”

Mike said: “Here the service charge covers both of those and building maintenance, buildings insurance, water utilities. Obviously the whole idea of this type of independent living is the fact that you don’t have to worry about these things. You’re not picking the phone up every five minutes to organise things.

“The 24-hour support you get here wasn’t a huge factor for Pam in deciding to move here. I’m only a mile down the road now and if anything were to happen she’d just pick the phone up to me. That said, sometimes you can’t even wait five minutes, and in that situation it’s good to know that there’s somebody here all the time. And the team here are all very nice.”

The move

Mike and Pam were really pleased with the support they received from the Senior Move Partnership and their personal clerk from Adlington Retirement Living.

Mike said: “It’s been about fifteen years since I moved house and I did it all myself then, but there’s so much more involved now. You’ve got EPC certificates and things like that – that’s just an example of the additional paperwork that has to be organised. We had help from the personal clerk service and that was really useful. She was an absolute star! And we also had help from Amanda at the Senior Move Partnership.”

Pam said: “She was brilliant wasn’t she.”

Mike said: “Pam was moving from a much larger property and found it very difficult, having lived there for 30 or 40 years, to make choices about what to bring. Amanda helped her to make those choices.

“On the day of the move Amanda was at The Woodlands waiting for us and she’d got it all arranged with the removals people. The first thing that came in was the stuff for the freezer. We came in and everything was in the kitchen for us.”

Pam said: “It was all done. The cupboards and everything. When Amanda first came to see us, we sat down with her and worked through everything room by room. What we wanted to keep, what we wanted to give to family, what we wanted to sell or give to a charity shop. We did a written plan of what was going to go where in my new apartment and she just made it all happen.”

Mike said: “I don’t think we could have managed without her. She was extremely well suited to the job and obviously very used to people not being able to make up their minds. She had the right contacts for everything. Pam had a dining suite, a sideboard, table and chairs, which wouldn’t fit here. Amanda gave us a contact and we sold it. Apparently, there’s a huge market for this type of furniture in the US and Australia and we would never have known about that.”

Life at The Woodlands

Since the move Mike and Pam regularly go for dog walks together and find it’s a good way to keep fit and to meet people in the local community.

Pam said: “I used to play tennis about three times a week but then I got this problem with my eyes and I had to stop about 18 months ago.

“There are three or four really nice parks near here. We like Fog Lane Park because it’s a really big one and there’s a little dog-friendly café there where you can get coffee and biscuits. We sometimes go on the tram to Didsbury Park too. It takes less than five minutes from here. I often bump into people with dogs and have a conversation with them.”

Mike said: “Most people we meet ask if Honey’s a Cockapoo and we have to tell them that she’s a miniature Labradoodle. On a good walk we’ll do two or three miles, but we don’t always feel like going that far. Sometimes we drive to the park and then go for a walk.”

Pam also enjoys regularly meeting up with her new neighbours in the coffee lounge, as a ‘member of the 4.30pm club’.

Mike said: “It’s unofficial but if you go down to the coffee lounge at 4.30pm you’ll usually find half a dozen people there.”

Pam said: “I enjoy the company. I think if you moved here on your own it would be a good way to make friends.

“We had a ‘do’ recently with a Great Gatsby theme too. We dressed up. I wore one of my dresses and sent away for gloves, beads and a headband. It was to mark the one-year anniversary of The Woodlands opening. I would definitely recommend it here.”

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