It took a little consideration for John Bailey-Smith to move from his home of 40 years to Caterham Lodge, Churchill Retirement Living’s purpose built development for the over 60s in Caterham.
This is nothing unusual for the 85 year-old who is a well-known member of the Caterham community and volunteer for and former chairman of many local organisations including the Caterham Residents Association, The Citizens Advice Bureau, The Miller Centre Club and the History Centre. But like any good committee chairman, he considered the pros and cons of the situation before making a final decision and has ended up with a good result.
He said: “It is difficult to leave somewhere with so many memories. I lost my wife two years ago after caring for her through dementia. We had lived together in our family home for 40 years but I am 85 now. I knew that I could not continue to live at the bottom of a steep hill, no longer driving, with a long walk into town. I would have struggled to look after the house and the garden and it didn’t make sense for me to be there. My son and daughter-in-law were concerned about all these things and I realised they were perfectly correct.
“I moved in to Caterham Lodge five months ago and I haven’t looked back. It’s warm and comfortable here – I haven’t yet switched on the heating! The Lodge is so convenient for the shops and the doctors. And, another thing my son was right about – the pub is just over the road!”
Since moving in at Caterham Lodge in June, Mr Bailey-Smith has also enjoyed the social side of living there.
He said: “There’s a good bunch here. We’re always teasing and joshing – we get on well. We’ve just started Tai Chi classes at the Lodge – it’s supposed to be very good for you, but I’m still assessing that!”
Mr Bailey-Smith bought a two bedroom apartment at the development on Stafford Road with a view to turning one of the bedrooms into a study.
He said: “There is no doubt, moving is a worry in itself and downsizing – particularly for a person like me who keeps records and documents – is a very big undertaking. I used the Home Exchange Service from Churchill so I didn’t have to worry about the process of selling my home, finding a buyer and being in a chain. Now I’m here, I still have some boxes to go through so I can empty the second bedroom and have a proper study here, but I am so very happy with the decision I made.”
Mr Bailey-Smith has cut down on the number of local organisations he volunteers for now but he still works for two which are close to his heart. He said: “I am still a steward at the History Centre – I love history and take great interest in looking back at my family tree. I am also a trustee of the East Surrey Carers Support Association. I was put in touch with this wonderful organisation when I was looking after my wife and I had previous experience of caring for my own elderly parents, so I will continue to support them where I can.”