When you step foot into Margaret Massey’s apartment at William Sanders Retirement Village you quickly realise one thing – someone who really loves music must live here!
After all, not many Ryman residents can boast not only a grand piano in their living room, but a theatre organ too.
“I have played all my life, I enjoy doing it, I just love it,” Margaret says, as a big smile spreads across her face.
While it may seem like a daunting task to get such large musical instruments into a second-floor apartment, Margaret says it was actually pretty straightforward, having hired professional piano movers to do it.
“They go round and round wrapping it with plastic wrap, the legs and pedals came off, they locked the lid down and it was just the two men with their little trolley. They put rugs over it and it sits in that to move it. And it fit in the lift no problem. The organ was the same.”
Margaret loves her piano so much she points out it was 28 years to the day that her and her late husband Brian bought it.
Lately, with a bit of arthritis affecting her fingers, there has been an element of therapy in her playing too.
“I play Dizzy Fingers every night, it’s good exercise for my fingers!”
Margaret’s love of music began at the age of seven when she would play tunes on the piano at home.
She gained her Grade 8 in classical music but her true love was for jazz and swing music.
It was learning another instrument, the piano accordion, that led to her meeting her future husband.
“He was learning accordion and I was learning it too. The teacher wanted to do a recital and we had to do practice together.”
Love blossomed and the pair got married.
“We had 63 years together, we were very happy,” she says.
After a stint of teaching piano, Margaret and Brian played in a band together called the Shore Tones.
“I used to play for weddings down at the Cheltenham Kiosk, they’d pack in three weddings in a day. I would play while the guests arrived, for the toasts and a wee while afterwards,” Margaret recalls.
“Brian would pick me up at 7.30pm and we would go and play for a dance!”
The couple had two daughters and after living in Milford for a while they moved into the house on Vauxhall Road that Brian’s parents had built, and went on to enjoy the stunning sea views for more than 30 blissful years.
Unfortunately, Brian was then diagnosed with mesothialoma and it was that which prompted the move into William Sanders Retirement Village.
“He knew he was going down hill and he didn’t want me left on my own so that’s why we decided to come in,” says Margaret.
On her 87th birthday, nearly three years ago, Margaret had her own health scare however, following a fall in the middle of the night.
Margaret says she was relieved to recover to help Brian through the final stages of his illness but is sad that he never got to enjoy living in their new home in the village, with its eastern aspect surrounded by trees.
“I’ve been to a few of the Happy Hours and my neighbour across the hall actually lived two doors away from me on Vauxhall Road.
“When I saw the building going up I thought I would like to face the other way where all the action is but now I’m so happy, it’s so nice being here, and you feel very safe.”
Margaret, who is a member of the Wurlitzer Trust, is now looking forward to the village centre opening next year, and her fellow residents will be in for a real treat.
“I’m hoping to get an overseas theatre organist to play at the village and I’ve offered to move my organ over there for them to play.”