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Mamma mia!    It's Ernest Rutherford’s birthday

Written by Ryman Healthcare
on June 21, 2023

A surprise Abba performance, speeches and one heck of a party marked a very special birthday for Nelson’s Ernest Rutherford Retirement Village.

Nelson Mayor Nick Smith and Liz Dilger, General Manager of New Zealand Operations, joined with residents to celebrate 15 years of the village.

The celebration included the presentation of a brand-new painting of the village’s namesake, Baron Rutherford, commissioned by Ryman for the residents to enjoy.

The village team put together a video telling the story of the village from the early days. 

And the village’s very own Abba tribute performers Lyn Nelson, Elaine Mildren, Gwenda Parker and Lyn Skipper teamed up for a medley from the Swedish supergroup. 

Mayor Nick Smith said he was lucky enough to have to been at the celebrations to mark the opening of the village 15 years ago, and he was pleased to be back.

“It was a truly a Nelson-wide celebration back then. It was celebration of a beautifully-designed village and facility, and also a belated celebration that recognised one of Nelson’s greatest contributors – Ernest Rutherford.’’

IMG_5697The village’s very own Abba tribute performers Lyn Nelson, Elaine Mildren, Gwenda Parker and Lyn Skipper (above), Village Manager Sam Ferrick and Nelson Mayor Nick Smith cut the cake (below).

Since it opened the village had established itself as a landmark in the city thanks to the quality of its care and its community spirit.

“You can have the best building and the nicest units, but they don’t make a retirement village,’’ Mayor Smith said.

“I’ve had the privilege of coming here many times over the past 15 years and the caring staff that are employed by this facility are much more important than the buildings. I acknowledge them.’’ 

If there was any chapter in the life of Ernest Rutherford where the village had stepped up to the mark, it was during the COVID years when the care was excellent, Mayor Smith said.

So excellent in fact, he was planning to move in. 

“It won’t be too long before I will be knocking on the door for a unit because I see the way in which the village provides a caring environment. I’d be proud to be a resident here one day,’’ he said.  


Village residents Heather and Lou Colquhoun and General Manager of New Zealand Operations Liz Dilger
unveil the anniversary plaque.

The mayor noted that he was nervous about the village's 15th birthday and had a warning for residents to behave.

“While we celebrate the 15th birthday it is not an invitation for you all to become difficult teenagers – I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.’’

Liz Dilger said the village had been a success right from the start, selling in record time and becoming an integral part of the Stoke community.

Liz’s biggest thank you of the day went to Village Manager Sam Ferrick and the team for all they had done and continued to do each day to care for their residents.

“Thank you to you all for all you have done. You’re extraordinary – and in the past three years of COVID you have been exceptional as well as extraordinary. I cannot thank you enough.’’

Liz singled out a whole lot of long-serving team members for special thanks, including Vicki McLennan, Raewyn Wright, Anna McCorkindale, Lynn Rollo, Helen Danielsen, Debbie Ogden, Joanne Robinson, Teresa Churchill, Lauren Wells, Simone Taylor, Janet Stacey, Bev Fokenga, Karen Wellington, Jane McIlroy, Krystal Manson, Jane Hockey and Greece Tade. 

Happy birthday Ernest Rutherford.


About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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