Village named after her Uncle Willy soon to be home
Turning 80 was a big factor for Waiheke couple Glennys and Grant to start thinking about retirement living.
But Glennys admits there was another very special reason behind their decision to choose Ryman Healthcare’s new Devonport retirement village.
The reason? Glennys is the great-niece of the village namesake, naval hero William Sanders.
“I was absolutely delighted when I found out Ryman wanted to name the new village after him,” says Glennys.
“Although William has been recognised in various ways, such as the Sanders Cup yacht race and Sanders Avenue in Takapuna, as naval historian Grant Howard says in his book Gunner Billy, New Zealand’s ‘enigmatic war hero Lieutenant Commander William Sanders VC had remained something of a mystery.’”
With Ryman putting his full name well and truly on the map, it would mean younger generations would learn more about New Zealand’s most highly decorated naval hero, she said.
William, who was the only Kiwi to win a Victoria Cross in a naval battle, died after his ship was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1917.
He won the VC – the Commonwealth’s highest honour for bravery – as well as the Distinguished Service Order.
Glennys said she grew up learning about her brave great uncle.
“My grandmother Emily Keith, nee Sanders, was William’s only sister. She, William and their other two brothers Charles and Walter were very close.
“As I lived with Emily for my first six years, William, or Uncle Willy as we called him, was very much part of my life.
“As a special treat my grandmother would recount stories of William’s exploits and show us grandchildren his sword and naval uniform which are now displayed at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.”
Buying an apartment in the village was an obvious choice because of the family connection, which she admits was definitely ‘appealing’, but Devonport is a great location for other reasons too, she says.
“Devonport was where I learned to swim!” she says.
“In the summer, although we lived in Mt Albert, Mum would often take me on the ferry to Devonport for a picnic, which we both loved.
“My husband Grant lived in Takapuna when we first met and we lived in Birkenhead for 30 years so the Shore has always been special for both of us,” she adds.
While their apartment is yet to be built, Glennys admits that having some certainty for their future is reassuring.
“As one ages, thoughts naturally turn to what may be needed at the next stage of life’s journey and it seems that a retirement village offers a sense of security.
“It is also reassuring for Grant and I as we enter our 80s to know that there are different levels of care available to us if required in the future.”
In the meantime, as they wait for construction to begin on their apartment they are happy to enjoy the delightful surrounds of Waiheke Island, continuing with their interests which include playing Mah Jong, walking, reading and writing.
“No doubt there will be opportunities to develop some new hobbies too!” says Glennys.