Living in Very Sheltered Flats since: 2009
1. Where did you live before coming to the Almshouses?
A nice house in Woodbridge.
2. What made you decide you wanted to live in very sheltered accommodation?
After my wife became ill, she needed more care than I could give. We had carers coming in several times a day but it wasn’t enough. We managed at home for a couple of years but soon realised we needed more help.
3. Why did you choose the Almshouses?
The district nurse prompted me to make enquiries and apply. When my wife and I came to visit it was the excellent care that persuaded us that an Almshouses’ Very Sheltered Flats was what we needed. We didn’t look anywhere else.
4. What did you think when you first saw the Very Sheltered Flats?
We were both very impressed. We couldn’t believe how lovely they were.
Although I knew about the Almshouses because I’d been a pupil at Woodbridge School and the Almshouses and the school are both part of the Seckford Foundation, I hadn’t been inside since the new buildings had been completed in 2005. We were shown round and once anyone has seen round the place they can’t fail to be impressed.
5. How long did you have to wait for a place?
We got in almost straight away.
6. What was your first day/night like?
Getting to the point where we could move and start our first day in our new flat was what I remember most. I am a hoarder and I had to get rid of a lot of stuff quickly. My advice to people is to get rid of stuff – you don’t need it! We’d been in our house for 50 years – if you leave clearing it so late like I did, it’s a very big job.
We had a removals firm and our neighbours were fantastic. Once all the stuff was delivered to the Almshouses, our neighbours helped me unpack and find places for it all. They couldn’t believe how lovely it was here either – like a hotel they said!
I adapt easily so the first night was fine and my wife, Mary was relieved to be in a safe place
7. What do you value and enjoy most about the Almshouses?
When I first moved here it was the care and kindness that I valued the most – it was the reason we moved here and has been superb in every way. I am still very pleased to be here and feel very lucky.
I used to play golf but gave it up when my wife became ill and now I don’t think I have the balance for it. But there’s a lot to do here and I join in with everything I can – although I don’t do the knitting or the art! I go to the exercise class, the film shows, the lunches and the religious services and I go out on my own too. I have a car and I drive down to town and to a few other places but I am happy with my own company and I love spending time in my flat.
8. What would you say to someone thinking of coming to visit or to move in here?
The friendliness of the place is remarkable – everyone is approachable and you have none of the worries of running a house.
9. What changes have you seen at the Almshouses?
My wife died in August 2011 – so that has been a huge change to my life that I am still coming to terms with.
There is a new Head of Care at the Almshouses now and she has made an enormous and positive difference to the place. Everyone speaks very highly of her.
10. Could you tell us about your life story?
I was born in Woodbridge and went to Woodbridge School. I was still at school when the Second World War broke out but when I was old enough I joined the Civil Defence as a messenger. I had to sleep in Woodbridge Shire Hall one night every week, ready to deliver important messages, but none ever came!
I left school at 16, having decided I wanted to be an electrical engineer and I became an apprentice at the Ipswich Power Station. On their advice, I transferred my apprenticeship to Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company in Manchester – they were very big at the time, don’t exist now. Once I’d qualified, I became part of Vickers’ Commissioning Department in London.
While on holiday in Torquay in August 1952, I met my future wife and we got married in 1953. My wife was a qualified nurse but also worked as a librarian and an officer in the Red Cross. Once married, I really wanted to get back to Woodbridge as my parents and sister still lived there. I was lucky to get a job in Ipswich working for the British Electricity Authority where I stayed from 1953 until 1984. I looked after electrical plant and I was responsible for commissioning the two generators at Sizewell A in the 1960s.
When the electricity industry was privatised in the 1980’s I was transferred to working on the National Grid until I retired.