Life’s been good for Sue and Stan Poole who have enjoyed six happy years at Ryman Healthcare’s Evelyn Page Retirement Village.
But they realised just how good it was when they visited a friend recently who still lives in their old neighbourhood in Browns Bay.
“That was a real eyeopener for us,” says Stan. “Her husband had died suddenly so she was on her own and she doesn’t drive.
“The place was like a morgue during the week because everyone goes off to work and she said she’d become a real hermit.”
Things couldn’t be more different at Evelyn Page for Sue and Stan.
“We certainly have more social life than we’d have if we were still living in our own home,” says Sue.
She goes on to list fine dining nights, fish and chip dinners with the residents in their block, trivia nights, Happy Hour, croquet competitions and playing bridge at the local bridge club in Orewa among their many activities.
But it’s the sense of community that’s been the most rewarding.
“We’ve made some good friends here,” Sue says. “Nobody is in anybody’s pockets but everybody looks out for each other.
“It really is just like a village,” she says. “When Stan had major heart surgery three years ago, our neighbour had to go to the same hospital to have her knee done. Stan took her then I took him in to have his op and then another neighbour went in to pick her up and bring her home.
“If anybody needs a hand you know somebody will be available and happy to help.”
Getting to know people from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences has been enlightening.
“I was in the WRAF and Stan was in the RNZAF and we met in Singapore and married there,” says Sue, who originally hails from Birkenhead in Cheshire.
After settling back in Auckland, Stan went on to work in the plastics industry in a factory on the North Shore before Air New Zealand ‘made him an offer he couldn’t refuse!’
When their two children were small, Sue worked for NZ Post, ending up in payroll where she worked for 23 years before retiring.
“It’s been nice meeting all the different people here,” says Stan. “There are quite a few farmers for instance and that’s such a different lifestyle to what we’ve known we find it very interesting.”
Friendships are able to blossom through the many social occasions the village enables.
A particular favourite is when the neighbours in their apartment block get together for drinks and nibbles or fish and chip nights.
“We usually get about a third to half of the block coming along so that’s always a fun occasion.”
The couple have really embraced playing croquet which they picked up after moving into the village.
“When we started only one of the guys had played before!” says Stan. “We represent our village and play against other retirement villages in the area.”
Stan says he has been impressed by Ryman’s generosity on numerous occasions.
“Whenever we have a croquet tournament here Ryman puts on morning and afternoon tea and lunch as well.
“And because they sponsor the ballet and the NZSO we have been able to go to that which I really enjoyed. Ryman is very generous with things like that.”
It’s these little extras that Sue and Stan have discovered since moving into their sunny third-floor apartment, with another being the window washing service.
“The window cleaner said it was the only village where they cleaned the windows inside and out,” Sue says.
The cost of living had been a big factor in their decision to move into the village.
“We had been thinking about it for a while and had looked at various places. Because we were retired and with the way prices and expenses were going, we could see it becoming more difficult for us,” says Stan, who was initially the more hesitant of the two.
“We had a two storey three bedroomed place with a granny flat downstairs. It was too big so it was time to move,” adds Sue. “Stan had only just turned 70 but rather than leave it for another four to five years and pay two lots of real estate and lawyers fees we decided to move into a village then.”
And now they are so glad because they’ve been able to explore everything the village has to offer.
“It’s the best decision we ever made,” says Sue. “And I’m so glad we came in when we did, because we’ve been able to enjoy it. That’s why I say to others ‘don’t leave it too late!’”