Grace Joel Retirement Village received a very special present to celebrate its 20th birthday this week – an original Grace Joel painting entitled Portrait of a Young Woman.
The painting was gifted to the village by a generous resident who preferred to remain anonymous, and will be displayed in the reception area.
Two residents, Cliff Hart and Bruce Anderson, unveiled the painting and went on to share their historical perspectives and memories of Grace Joel Retirement Village and the surrounding area.
After an introduction by Village Manager Murray Parkes, who gave a brief history of the building’s evolution and the privilege it had been to spend five years in the role, Bruce went on to reveal his very special connections with the site.
“In 1937 my parents purchased a half-acre right of way section at 180 St Heliers Bay Road which is now part of the Grace Joel site and I lived on that property for the first 20 years of my life,” he said.
“We were surrounded by small farms in those days and a huge Chinese market gardens stretched from our back boundary right through to Mt Taylor.
“As a youth I milked cows on what is now the bowling green of Grace Joel village!”
Resident Bruce Anderson points out where his family's property was in relation to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital (above) and (below) residents filled out the lounge to celebrate the special milestone.
Bruce then went on to mention a list of residents who now all live on what was once his family’s land.
When the Seventh Day Adventist Church purchased the land at 184 St Heliers Bay Road in 1974 Bruce’s father was the Fletchers construction manager in charge of building the hospital.
The reception area and medical centre next door were added in 1992 and at one stage the Adventist manager who came to run the hospital was a tenant in his father’s house.
Bruce then described how Ryman then approached the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in 1999 and took it over and remodelled it, and Kevin Hickman negotiated with Bruce and his brother to buy his parents’ property before reopening the village in 2002.
Bruce’s connections didn’t end there though. Both his parents went on to move into the care centre and lived out their final years in the resthome and hospital.
Bruce said he believes he and his wife Margaret are the only residents at the village to have parents living there before them. He was also highly complementary of the village team and thanked them for the eight happy years they had spent there.
Next to speak was the village’s longest serving resident, Cliff Hart. Cliff and his wife Judy were the third residents to move into Grace Joel, on 28th August 2002, settling into Apartment 8.
He used to do all the x-ray work at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital and said two of the hospital staff members were now residents in the Grace Joel care centre.
“In the 20 years I have been here there have been 17 managers would you believe?”
Longest-serving resident Cliff Hart joins Sales Advisor Jackie O'Fee to cut the cake (above) and (below), with Village Manager Murray Parkes to unveil a commemorative plaque.
He credited previous Village Manager Paul Sutton for ‘straightening things out beautifully’: “He was the first one who had the management, staff and residents on an even keel.”
Cliff recalled fantastic activities and events over the years, including flower shows, fashion parades, a mock wedding and Dame Malvina Major performing in the atrium.
Cliff’s other observations were that people were leaving it longer to move into the village and with other providers building nearby plus a new Ryman village being built in Kohimarama there would soon be five big retirement villages in the area.
The residents laughed when Cliff said his family, including well-known New Zealander Graeme Hart, was initially not happy about his parents’ decision to move into the village.
“When we bought the place, the family were not terribly happy. Our son and son-in-law, their reaction was ‘look at what you’re doing, we’ve lost all our money’. Well, that is nonsense,” he laughed.
Their view quickly changed however.
“My son said to me 'Dad, I know you’re honest and if at the end of 12 months you think you’ve made the wrong move I know you’ll say so and if I’m wrong I’ll say so’.
“We got to 11 months and I said ‘Graeme, it’s only one month to go.’ He said ‘Oh, I gave that away six months ago!’”
Finally, Cliff was invited to unveil a special plaque to commemorate the anniversary, which he did with the words: “May the Lord bless this ship and all those who sail in her!”
The Seventh Day Adventist Hospital which was originally built at a cost of $2.29million.