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Ron and Ngaire's 100 per cent score for Bruce McLaren

It was a simple cat scratch that speeded up Ron and Ngaire Higgins’ decision to move into Ryman Healthcare’s Bruce McLaren retirement village.

The decision was easy, unlike the healing process. Cleo their beautiful Birman cat with the big blue eyes clawed Ron on the leg at the beginning of 2017 and the result, says Ron, was an arduous recovery.

“I ended up in hospital with an infection for five weeks.

“They had to open up my knee to clean out the mechanical part of my knee replacement and now I have what’s known as concrete knee, so I can’t bend it.

“On top of that I had to carry around a bag of antibiotics which were being administered intravenously for another four months.”

The experience underlined for the couple how much more difficult the everyday things involved in home ownership were becoming.

Comparing that time with life in the village now, Ron, 91, can think of a positive straightaway: “I don’t have to do lawns and cut hedges!” he laughs.

Adds Ngaire, 89: “Mowing the lawns is heavy work for an elderly man! It was just getting to be too much.”

And what with all the laundry, cooking and cleaning chores on top of that, home life was becoming quite difficult.

The couple put their home in Hatfields Beach, Orewa on the market as they investigated retirement villages, however the search was over before it had even begun!

“We came down to have a look near Howick for somewhere close to Ngaire’s daughter Denise and we didn’t even look at any other,” says Ron. “We just came here and decided this was it.”

The couple, who met on a blind date after being matched up by their best friends and recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, have now lived in their serviced apartment at Bruce McLaren for eight months.

They love the fact they no longer have to worry about getting all the little chores done - their towels are changed daily, the rubbish gets collected, and once a week the bed linen is changed and the apartment is vacuumed.

There’s also a cooked meal every day.

“The food is just like my mother used to dish up at home, I think that’s very good,” says Ngaire.

The effects of that, says Ron, have been huge as their lives have opened up again.

“We have done a lot more being here than we were doing at home. There are a lot of trips and things and it’s more social. We’ve made quite a few new friends and enjoy mingling with everybody at Happy Hour.”

Ngaire adds that they’re just as happy enjoying a day trip out to Muriwai beach as they are sitting out on their balcony listening to the birds chirping in the hedge and chatting to their neighbours, catching a movie in the village cinema or people-watching in the village centre.

“We’ve got a swimming pool here too and I’m a swimmer. It’s warm and always available,” she says.

Ngaire is very proud of her good health, pointing out that she doesn’t take any medication at all, and loves to keep fit and active by walking regularly and doing yoga when she can.

These days, she admits, she’s happy just to walk around the village after what was supposed to be a quick walk back to the village from the shops down the road saw her recently getting lost and ending up in Cockle Bay.

“I got my pilot’s licence at 52 so you wonder how I managed to get lost but it’s a lovely walk around the building,” she laughs.

The option of further health care facilities within the village care centre should they need them in the future was a huge factor.

Ron adds: “If anything happens to me, there’s always somewhere for Ngaire to go and someone to look after her which to me is worth the weight.”

And with all the help they need on hand and delivered by the friendly and helpful staff, life at the village is pretty good.

“It’s fantastic,” says Ron. “My advice to other people who are thinking about moving in is you can’t go wrong. I think it’s 100 per cent!”

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