Helen's Story

Helen is looking forward to moving into Lower Mill; she has already been joining in the social activities and getting to know those already living here. 

I can’t wait to be one of the gang

My husband died about 12 years ago, and we'd lived in a big house in Sussex on three floors, and it was all a bit much. I mean, I just didn't need that much space or that much cleaning and maintenance in my life. She laughs…

It was a wonderful house for entertaining, though, and we did plenty of that throughout our life together, and you could sleep the whole family there. However, I'd been having dips in my health, and my daughter who lives in Cheam, was the one always having to come up and down to help. She leads a very busy life herself, and I thought it wasn't fair for her to do all this travelling, so they persuaded me to come down and see what I could find here.

This was about 7 years ago. I initially tried to buy a bungalow, but the sellers pulled out, so I bought a smaller house. I looked at some flats at that time as I'd seen the American style apartments with gyms and communal facilities; sadly, there wasn't anything like that here in the UK. The apartments for older people were horrible. No facilities and sometimes nowhere to even park!

So, this time around, it was a genuine surprise and delight to find Birchgrove – there just aren't enough properties like this around!

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I'm moving into a beautiful apartment on the first floor overlooking the river. You can hear the birds singing – it's gorgeous. I love reading and the library at Lower Mill is amazing – I'm hoping to pass on some of my coffee table books to the library, they are too precious to get rid of, and I don't have room for that many.

So here I am, downsizing and decluttering and doing it all again. I’ve stacks and stacks of cooking equipment and china so, I’m going to have to get it down to a reasonable amount. I’m trying to persuade my family they do need some sundae glasses and a coffee set and all those sorts of things… she laughs again. 

There are two reasons I decided to move again. I’m stepping down from entertaining, but more and more, it's very much about having the chance to be around other people I can talk to. I am accused of going off into fairyland. I think that happens to a lot to people who are living on their own.

It's a bit like when you are sort of reading a book, you are miles away, and my daughter says I don't always connect. She says, 'come on, mum, we are talking; join in.' So yes, it is very much about having that social interaction and getting into activities again with other people. I like playing bridge, reading, and yoga classes, so I plan to take full advantage of all the exercise classes at Lower Mill – I can't wait to move in fully and be one of the gang.”

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