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Chris Beckett celebrates 25 yrs of Caring

Written by Alan Wood
on November 24, 2023

Chris Beckett has worked for Ryman as a Senior Caregiver and Caregiver for nearly a quarter of a century, showing an undiminished passion for looking after village residents and others in her life.

Chris says she has a purpose for fostering warm and caring relationships, and being empathetic with the other people has helped her cement a sense of belonging at Ngaio Marsh where residents adore her.

Speaking on her last day of full time work, Chris says she is looking forward to the possibility of casual shifts. She is now aged 72 and says she has had a lot of fun and enjoyment from a full time career. “I need some time, because I’ve literally worked my whole life. I had four children and also worked part-time during those years.”

Chris was born and had her early years in the United Kingdom, being brought up in Croydon, just south of London, where she showed plenty signs of having an empathetic nature. She remembers her father, James, was an “absolute darling”, often showing his love of animals by bringing strays home. James was also a medic in World War II, and her Mum Muriel a homemaker.

Chris says she was a “Surrey girl” and one of her early jobs was working as a veterinary nurse. She remembers going to the Clifton Arms, near Norwood and Croydon, with the boss and as one of a group of young people enjoying British pub culture. Her ability to form relationships and care for others started early.

“I’ve always been a caregiver. When I was a child I was very tomboyish, but I had my dolls all quietly sorted. On a hot day I’d go and undress them and put light clothes on. Nobody knew about that so that’s where it (caring) came from.”

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Chris came to New Zealand and Christchurch, and remembers the country being advertised as subtropical. “I came to Christchurch and that was it, I loved it from the moment I was here.”

She started as a carer in 1988. Early on she formed a friendship with Heather Wilson, who is now a receptionist at Ryman’s Diana Isaac village. She has truly treasured such friendships.

Chris had started her career at Avonlea Dementia and Resthome, where she first met Heather.

Chris also knew Regional Operations Manager Jenny Thiele from the early days. Jenny this week says Chris deserves a wonderful retirement, and has shown what a wonderful person she is by being an amazing team member within the world of Ryman. Ngaio staff members gathered in her honour. “You can’t let this woman leave without something special,” Jenny said when a leaving photo was taken.

Chris and Jenny first met when Jenny began at Ngaio Marsh 23 years ago. At that point she was an enrolled nurse working in hospital unit, and Chris was a caregiver.

The pair say they had a lot of fun back in the day, laughing about some good times and strong memories. “It was a bit different in those days,” Jenny says. “We had some amazing parties and we did have some fun.”

Her first day at Ngaio Marsh was February 8, 1999. This was slightly ahead of when Ryman first listed on the NZX, and in those days there were only seven or eight villages in the entire group. Chris says later on she did short stints when other villages such as Edmund Hillary and Anthony Wilding were starting out or needed a helping hand.

When she began there were seven or so townhouse residents already moved in as Ngaio residents, and with new townhouses were still being built. Part of the village centre – including the atrium --  was finished, but other bits including the serviced apartments were still being built – just around the corner.

“The serviced apartments were locked off, they had doors, so they hadn’t been built, and on the right here -- the rest home as it was then – that hadn’t been finished,” Chris says.

“All outside was a building site... most of it hadn’t been done. It was still work in progress and it was a building site, rubble and stuff. We often sat outside and had a coffee there.”    

The village has grown, as has her relationship with the residents. “I’ve had a rapport with the people I’ve looked after, and that’s what keeps you here,” she says.

“It’s been hard to go and say goodbye today, and they’ve actually cried as well. They’ve contributed to my going away presents, so I’ve got to go and thank them.”


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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