Not all Ryman residents can claim viral internet sensation status – but Patrick Hogan Retirement Village’s Doug Lineham sure can!
It was during the live televised name reveal for Ryman Healthcare’s new Cambridge village on TVNZ’s Breakfast that presenter Matty McClean happened upon Doug.
The resulting hilarious sequence of dry, but complimentary-to-Ryman, one-liners left the audience calling for Doug to have his own show. One fan even touted him as the next PM!
His hilarious ripostes were soon shared on social media prompting his phone to run hot.
“Some of my friends thought I’d organised it, they were asking me ‘are you running the place?’ or ‘how much did they pay you?’” grins Doug.
Doug leaves Breakfast presenter Matty McLean in stitches with his deadpan one-liners.
What viewers didn’t know, however, was that behind the droll exterior, Doug was dealing with the loss of his beloved wife Jan from a genetic heart condition, with her funeral taking place just three days before the broadcast. He dropped into the naming event straight after saying goodbye to his son who was flying back to Perth. On top of that, he was also grieving two of his four siblings who passed away that same month.
Losing Jan after marking 53 years together hit him hard, and was compounded with dealing with a number of his own health issues including Parkinson’s disease, so the Ryman move became a literal lifeline for Doug.
“It was like climbing out of a hole really. I didn’t think I was going to make it and actually at one point I thought did I want to make it?” he says.
The response from the village team who helped him and his beloved cat Boo to settle in convinced Doug that he was doing the right thing, and was the reason why he was wholeheartedly singing Ryman’s praises on live tv.
Written in the welcome card was the phrase ‘we want you to know, your family has just grown significantly’.
“That’s what sold it for me,” he says of Sales Advisor David de Veth’s heartfelt message in the card.
“That man is an absolute asset to Ryman and the team here are great too.”
Doug and Jan had both researched local villages together and after they decided Ryman was the one, Jan had picked out all the furnishings for their lovely new townhouse.
“For our research, we wanted to know who are they, why are they, whether they are out for profit only and what are the people like in the village.
“I only came here because it was the best village in our opinion, and Jan wanted to come here, and that’s one way I can repay everything she’s done for me.”
Doug outside his new townhouse at Patrick Hogan Retirement Village.
A retired stock agent, Doug was passionate about his work and excelled at it, with roles within his career including working for the Beef Council in the Far North and helping to devise software to measure livestock performance, something he still does now.
Originally from Darfield, Canterbury, he and Jan, a teacher, lived in several places around New Zealand with his work involving moves to Wairoa, Hawke’s Bay and Kerikeri plus some extended trips to China, but Cambridge is where they settled 25 years ago.
“We gelled with Cambridge. We had the most wonderful neighbours. I had a vege garden and Jan had a flower garden.”
Now, with a medication adjustment having positive effects, and regular visits from his three grandchildren and daughter who live locally, Doug is feeling more positive about the future.
Possessing a very green thumb, he is tending to two extremely healthy-looking tomato plants on his patio, joking: “Air New Zealand have spotted my tomato plants and asked me to take the top out of them!”
And there are plenty of other projects on the go too.
“I’m busy. I’ve got 30,000 photos to edit and a new mirrorless camera to learn how to use. And I want to write a book.”
In the meantime, he is making lots of new friends in the village, many of whom have taken Boo to their hearts too.
“They’re lining up to feed Boo while I’m away!”