Hearts of Gold at 194

Apr 6, 2022

Richard may have been a little reluctant at first but there is no doubt that the McGhie’s are delighted with their decision to move into Settlers Park Retirement Village while they were in their sixties. Mary says that they were among the youngest residents at the time and that she has always felt that the Park is “more of a suburb for seniors than a retirement home”. This lovely couple have been residents for nearly 15 years and say that it is the community spirit prevalent in the Park that underpins the Settlers success story.

A dynamic duo who clearly have a deep-seated sense of service, Richard and Mary cook and distribute meals for residents living on their own in the park. This is, as they so rightly point out, another example of the many informal social networks that criss-cross the cottages. These run in perfect harmony alongside the formal activities offered by various committees and management. These informal networks include sewing circles, book clubs, card players and, once upon a time, a fishing group!

The McGhie’s say that one of the best aspects of the Park is the level of neighbourliness. “We see it in action all the time,” says Mary. Richard continues saying that the adage “a problem shared is a problem halved” rings true on a regular basis. “The depth of expertise and experience contained in the Park is phenomenal,” oblivious to the fact that he himself brings a great deal to the table.

A retired ABSA bank branch manager, Richard was co-opted into the financial portfolio on the Board long before he and his wife sold their Port Alfred home and moved into Cottage 194. A man who is clearly skilled in finance, Richard said that the cost of running a home privately in comparison to owning a cottage life-right, is higher. “Then,” he says, “there is the bonus of not having to worry about maintenance, gardening and the never-ending expenses that crop up as a result of holding a private title deed.” For Mary, it is the top drawer security that provides her with peace of mind. She adds that their three adult daughters are also delighted that they made the move at a relatively young age and are nicely settled with health care services on tap.

The McGhie’s visited Port Alfred on holiday shortly before Richard retired and bought a house on their very first visit.

We fell in love with the town and in no time at all were active members of the community with Richard serving on the Ratepayers Association Committee then becoming a Town Councillor. We were also involved with the Croquet Club.

It was thanks to their catering skills provided to the latter that they were inveigled into assisting with the running of Glen’s Den, the Park’s social hub set alongside the pond. Funds raised from the pub and grub events held twice weekly, were used to buy whatever was needed by the Park at the time.

This too has added to the favourable impression the McGhie’s have of the Park. Everything is always improving and there is a real sense of giving back and working together for the common good.

“Once we moved into the Park things really stepped up,” explains Richard, “we have both served on the Residents Committee and have held various voluntary jobs and portfolios.”

Since becoming a resident, Richard has repaired books for the Park’s Doug Bailes library and has kept a tally which now sits at more than 2500 books. He also compiles the monthly word search and crossword puzzles for the Park’s newsletter, aptly entitled “Silver Threads”. 

Mary joined the Social Events Committee, at one time serving as joint chair, and has been instrumental in organising a number of social and fundraising events including fetes and craft markets. She enjoys gardening and bridge in her own time. She comments that the pandemic has sadly slowed down a great deal of interaction and socialising but it is beginning to pick up again.

The hands on the carriage clock in their lounge creep steadily to 4pm and it is time for the McGhie’s to get going with the evening’s delivery of meals. For many of the folks seeing Richard is a highlight of their day. And, having met the kind and caring McGhie’s of Cottage 194, I can appreciate why.

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