Owen and Jan had barely unpacked their boxes after moving into Ryman Healthcare’s Linda Jones Retirement Village when lockdown measures were introduced in response to Covid-19.
Weeks before New Zealand went into Level 4 alert, Ryman Healthcare set up security on the gates of all of its 34 villages to screen non-essential visitors, and those who did come in had a temperature check and signed a declaration.
It was decisive steps such as these that assured Owen and Jan that their village bubble was a real safe haven and they had made the right move.
“We weren’t worried because we felt we were in a safe environment here,” says Owen, who lives with Jan in a ground floor apartment close to the Waikato River and Featherstone Park.
“We were asked to stay within the village grounds so we would walk up to the townhouses and back a couple of times and that would be 40 minutes and we probably did that every day.”
One of their two daughters lives in Tamahere and would regularly drop off groceries for them at the gate but the Hendersons say they appreciated all the extras that Ryman bestowed.
“It was very kind of Ryman to give us bread and milk every Wednesday and Happy Hour bags with beer or wine and cheese and crackers every Thursday,” says Owen.
Adds Jan: “And we all got an amazing box of goodies as well. They have just been so generous, nobody could complain, they have been excellent.”
With building paused on site, some of the construction workers had been deployed to help out with all the extra deliveries at Linda Jones and across town at Ryman’s other Hamilton village Hilda Ross.
“Anything that we wanted they just sorted and said ‘we can look after you’,” says Jan.
The sports-loving couple are normally very busy with their golf and bowls commitments. Jan plays club golf and attends meetings with Waikato Golf while Owen, a former CEO of the Tennis Coaches Association of New Zealand, is now a keen bowls player and would have been preparing for his usual competitions on the Gold Coast at this time of year.
And then there’s Owen’s duties as a founding member of the Chartwell Lions club with almost 50 years of service under his belt.
Jan says the lockdown gave them the chance to get off the treadmill for a bit.
“I quite enjoyed it because I could just unwind and not rush off somewhere. We’d had a really busy time of moving and unpacking and then I went to Australia in February for my sister’s 50th wedding anniversary so it was actually nice to not feel guilty about sitting down and reading a book!”
It was also a good time to try out a few new recipes and she would compare notes on daily WhatsApp chats with her three sisters who are based in Auckland, France and Australia.
Owen joined his Lions meetings via Zoom and also got his paintbrushes out and created a few beautiful paintings on canvas.
One special memory was created on Anzac Day when the couple joined other village residents to rise early and listen to the dawn service on the radio from their balconies.
“There was a piper across the river playing The Last Post at 6am which was particularly poignant,” says Owen.
The couple says the unusual circumstances actually helped them to forge a stronger bond with their fellow residents.
“Walking around the village was really good because we got to chat to people and we have made a lot of new friends,” says Jan.
“We’ve all been through this together and it’s brought us closer.”
Since the move to Level 2 the top priority was catching up with family for long-awaited hugs and of course, getting back on the golf course!
Says Jan: “Owen and I had a hit on Monday and today I played club golf. It was great getting out in the sunshine with the other girls.”
The Linda Jones show apartments are open to view, call David or Sharon to make a time to visit.