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Earthquake-damaged Ryman village reopens

Opening party to celebrate $20 million rebuild

Christchurch’s Essie Summers retirement village has been officially reopened after a $20 million rebuild.

The Ryman Healthcare retirement village on Colombo St sustained a large amount of damage in the 2011 earthquakes but managed to stay open throughout.

It was officially reopened at a party for residents, staff and relatives on May 15 after its extensive refit.

The village is now almost twice as big with additional care amenities for residents, including dementia care.

The village was known as Beckenham Courts but was renamed after Essie Summers, one of New Zealand’s most successful romance writers.

Essie’s daughter Elizabeth Jack and Ryman Chairman Dr David Kerr officially reopened the village.

Elizabeth Jack said her mother spent the first 27 years of her life in Christchurch, and having the village named after her was a great honour.

“I think she would have been astounded but delighted. She absolutely loved Christchurch, the place nurtured her. She was a Christchurch girl through and through. She loved the Port Hills and the sense of history, the architecture, and the Cathedral.’’

“What she’d make of all the changes I’m not sure.’’

Essie Summers was born in Christchurch in 1912 and wanted to be a writer from a young age. She sold her first romance novel to Mills and Boon in 1956, and went on to publish 57 novels with 19 million copies sold in more than 100 countries.

She was married to the Reverend William Flett, and had two children.

Essie died in 1998 after a long and successful career.

Dr David Kerr said it was a great name for a great village.

He praised both the residents and the staff for their resilience since the earthquakes and their patience during the rebuild.

“The way that residents and staff took the quakes and all their challenges in their stride, and are now thriving in this amazing new environment, is inspiring, and epitomises both passion and determination, such as we saw with Essie.’’

“I would like to thank particularly all the residents here for settling in this village. It is your home, we really hope you are enjoying it, and we sincerely thank you for putting your trust in us and we will do everything in our power to see that we meet your expectations.’’

More than 120 guests and residents celebrated the reopening party, which featured Dame Malvina Major.

About Ryman Healthcare:Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies.  The company owns 30 villages and serves over 8,000 residents in New Zealand and Australia.  Each village offers a combination of retirement living and aged care.

Media advisory:For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Corporate Affairs Manager David King on 03 366 4069 or 021 499 602.


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