Jim is refreshingly honest when he explains how he came to move into a serviced apartment at Linda Jones Retirement Village.
“I didn’t have any intentions of coming into a village like this, it was just the free lunch really,” grins Jim, who has lived on his own for 30 years.
“Being a bachelor, a free lunch sounded pretty good!”
The lunch came about after he talked to Sales Advisor David de Veth at a bowling tournament held at Frankton Junction Bowling Club last May.
“Ryman Healthcare was the sponsor and David had brochures placed around and he came and sat with us at afternoon tea and explained there was a free lunch at the village for anyone who’d like to come and look around.”
So, Jim went along and did just that – as well as the lunch - and he was surprised to find that he liked what he saw.
While he admired the beautiful grounds and well-appointed buildings, the main appeal was the people inside it, with the pandemic shaping his thinking considerably.
“That first March and April I had a very bad lockdown. That really got to me,” he says.
“I was on my own and didn’t see anybody for six weeks.
“My neighbours and family were pretty good at looking after me, but it wasn’t the same.”
Jim, who had been living in Ngāruawāhia for six years and down the road in Taupiri for 26 years prior, did his best to occupy himself but missed his usual socialising.
“I couldn’t go to the RSA, there were no race meetings, no football being played, and there’s only so many weeds that can grow in a week. You were almost waiting for them to grow so you could pull them out!
“So, the garden was looking pretty good!” he laughs.
Jim checked out a couple of other villages and decided Linda Jones was the way to go, and promptly set about organising the move and selling his property.
Jim has made his serviced apartment his home.
Taking pride of place in his apartment are numerous pictures of his son and three daughters, who have given him 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren – with one more on the way.
Then there are pictures of his horses, with Toimairangi and Watbro Ballad being the stars of his pastime as an owner and trainer of trotting horses.
And then, on another wall, is a homage to some of the important facets of his life – his pony club A certificate achieved at the age of 17, a plaque from the Waikato Greenkeepers Association, his RSA life membership for meritorious service to the Ngāruawāhia RSA, and a silver plate from the Ray and Franc de Ferriere families, recognising the 48 years he spent supervising the running of their farm.
“I worked for the Public Trust as a farm supervisor from February 1968 right through until I was 80,” says Jim, now 86.
It was just a few short months into enjoying his new life in the village that Jim got to experience a very different kind of lockdown at Linda Jones.
“Well, there was no comparison,” he says. “We could all eat together in the dining room and the staff were always happy and just couldn’t do enough for you. They were terrific, fantastic.”
Jim was one of several residents who organised a special thank you for the staff after the lockdown to recognise them for all their efforts, wearing face masks and visors all day but always with a smile beneath them.
“We all appreciated it so much. They all seem to have a way with older people and are just so kind and helpful.
It is nothing like the resthomes of old, where people were left sitting around with no activities to stimulate them, says Jim.
“I enjoy cards, snooker, I play bowls, and there’s all the community things that go on which make life a lot more pleasant.
“If you’re prepared to join into community life here, there’s a lot going on.”