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One Gin Wing, three matriarchs and a village wedding

Written by Christine McCurdy
on December 08, 2021

Sales Advisor Julie Crofts and Clinical Manager Sue O’Brien have been at Rowena Jackson village for a combined 39 years between them and they have seen a lot in this time.  

In the early days they had no computers, and all paperwork was sent to Christchurch in courier bags every night. The village was a lot smaller, with only 40 townhouses and 26 serviced apartments, and everyone living in the village knew each other. 

“Back then we only had two men in the serviced apartments – Cliffy and George,” says Julie. 

Later, a block including 20 bigger serviced apartments was built, and soon gained a bit of a reputation, along with a new unofficial name. 

Sue recalls: “It very soon became known as the Gin Wing. A lot of the residents that moved in were couples and knew each other, and every night was Gin night! We even had a sign, that said the Gin Wing. They were the new generation, they were younger.” 

“They were quite hard cases,” says Julie. 

“We’ve had some real characters living in the serviced apartments. They’d often joke around with the staff.”

When Sue moved from the serviced apartment wing to the hospital wing, she said the residents there were like long lost family. 

“They trusted me as I’d known them when they were in the townhouses and serviced apartments. When their needs changed, they trusted me, and their families did as well,” she says. 

The townhouse residents were equally memorable. 

“At one stage we had a group of matriarchs in the townhouses. There were three of them and they were quite fascinating women,” says Julie.

"They’d be lined up first to go anywhere. You’d hear some great stories from them, some of them had has the most wonderful and interesting lives.” 

One of the loveliest memories for Sue is townhouse residents’ Audrey and Murray Wishart’s wedding, 20 years ago. The pair met and married at the village, and as the previous sales advisor’s daughter had just got married, she brought in her fresh wedding flowers for Audrey and Murray's wedding. 

“It was just beautiful. It’s quite a love story,” says Sue. 

Julie and Sue have developed close bonds with many residents over the years.

“They are all like grandparents to us, and we feel like one big happy family,” says Julie.

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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