To get an idea of how treasured Village Support Person Prince Pagtanac has become at William Sanders you just have to say his name to anyone living or working there.
Village Manager Murray Bain says at the recent AGM, proceedings were rather serious and formal until Prince was mentioned.
“Immediately everyone was just raving about him, especially the ladies. ‘Oh Prince, he’s so wonderful, he’s done this for me, he’s done that….’,” laughs Murray.
“The residents just love him and he has been a true asset to the team.”
Prince is a very modest man and just smiles when given this feedback, but he clearly feels the same way about the residents.
When he puts up their pictures or helps them to get their gadgets working properly he gets the opportunity to hear their about their backgrounds, which is something he really loves.
“I really enjoy meeting the residents. I grew up with my grandmother so it reminds me of that, especially when they tell me stories about how they met with their husband or wife or how many kids they have.”
He also understands how precious some of their belongings are.
“Some of the portraits they ask me to put up, one of them was 118 years old, and there have been some that were 80 or 50 years old and showed their mother in her pram back in England.
“So I need to be really careful because these are priceless!”
The role of village support is fairly broad, says Prince, and can range from delivering parcels that the courier has brought, looking after the grounds and maintenance jobs, liaising with the construction team for the more serious fixes or helping residents to move into their new apartments.
And of course there are the pictures: “The most I have done is 40 paintings in one apartment!” he says.
Prince will find work to do if no-one needs him for anything specific.
“If I haven’t got anything else to do inside I focus on outside work, like cleaning the driveway and basement or keeping all the hallways clean. It’s not that hard,” he says.
Prince is familiar with Ryman having worked for six months at Evelyn Page as a kitchen assistant.
His wife Honey still works there as a caregiver although she is currently on maternity leave with their newborn baby boy, a new brother for their other two sons aged seven and five.
While he loved working at the Orewa village, he feels a particular affinity with the Devonport village because of its naval namesake.
“When I heard that William Sanders was in the Navy I was pleased because I worked as a sailor all round the world,” he says.
And like William Sanders, Prince was also in the merchant navy, where he worked with LPG and learned a wide range of skills which have set him in good stead for this role.
Now, as the village slowly fills with residents, Prince is looking forward to the future.
“I’m excited about seeing the care centre opening. There will be heaps of staff and people to move in and it will be a really happy environment.”