Trips of a lifetime for toy tortoise

Soaking up the sun in Spain or finding love in Greece, it might seem like your typical summer getaway but this is no ordinary holidaymaker. For Owners at Churchill Retirement Living’s Arlington Lodge in Leamington Spa have been treating the unlikeliest of friends to unforgettable trips to faraway destinations.

When retirees living at the Lodge on Arlington Avenue have been getting their passports at the ready and jetting off on their summer holidays, they’ve been taking a stuffed mascot along for the ride too – Ollie the tortoise.

Lodge Manager Chris McConalogue explains: “It’s me who started the craze! I’ve often shared a joke with Paul Beresford, an Owner here, about having a tortoise to roam in the fantastic communal gardens we’ve got here at the Lodge. We decided that a toy tortoise would be a lot easier to look after than the real thing. Before I knew it, Paul and his wife Jenny presented me with Ollie as a gift.

“I suggested we needed to find a use for him so initially we used him to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support by getting people to guess his name. Then we decided that the Owners would take him on their holidays with them and send us a photo of his adventures abroad. He’s already been to quite an array of places, including Italy, Spain, Greece and two cruises on the RMS Queen Mary 2. The whole thing started off as a bit of a joke, but Ollie has fast become a much-loved member of our community at Arlington Lodge.”

Mr and Mrs Beresford, who recently took Ollie on a trip up north to visit Churchill’s Tatterton Lodge in Wetherby, said: “Ollie’s adventures are very popular with the Owners at the Lodge, and he’s never short of people wanting to take him away somewhere. He even managed to find love on the island of Zakynthos in Greece, when he met another toy tortoise called Dolly. It’s a lovely joke that everyone at the Lodge enjoys sharing, and it’s definitely caused a few laughs since it started.”

Arlington Lodge is a stylish collection of one and two bedroom privately-owned retirement apartments. Each apartment has been designed exclusively for those in their retirement years and has a number of safety and security features, such as a 24 hour emergency call line and a video entry system, for complete peace of mind.

There is also an on-site Lodge Manager, who oversees the running of the development, and an Owners’ Lounge, which can be used as a place to enjoy a catch up with like-minded neighbours, or for holding events.

The development is set in landscaped grounds in a central location, just a short distance from public transport links, shops and all the local amenities on offer in Leamington Spa.

To find out more, visit the show complex open daily from 10am to 5pm, call 01926 680 365 or visit