For those looking to live independently in later life, our award-winning housing scheme in Yorkshire is an attractive option. Philip Parsons, who lives there, explains why
Psalm 92 tell us we can expect to ‘bear fruit in old age’. For Philip Parsons, moving to our independent living housing scheme Royd Court in Mirfield, has helped him to do just that – both figuratively, and literally.
At his allotment, just a short walk from the scheme, things are looking promising. Strawberry plants are in flower, broad beans climb skyward, potato plants sit snugly in growing bags and slender onion shoots hint at a bounty below the ground. Add to that burgeoning fruit bushes – among them raspberries, gooseberries and loganberries – a profusion of waxy rhubarb leaves, and a plum tree laden with tiny green emeralds, and it’s shaping up to be a plentiful harvest.
Philip and his wife Sheila have been enjoying life at Royd Court, and its beautiful surroundings, since 2007, having made the move up from Bedfordshire. Arriving just a few months after it opened, they are among those who have lived here the longest. In 2019, Royd Court was awarded the Regional EAC (Elderly Accommodation Council) Award, in recognition of its excellent provision of housing for older people.
The scheme is made up of 58 one- and two-bedroom flats, some leasehold and some for rent, with a range of other additional facilities, including a communal lounge, laundry, restaurant, hair salon and a guest room for visitors. In the courtyard, provision has even been made for green-fingered residents like Philip in the form of a small greenhouse, where seedlings can be nurtured before planting.
"When we were thinking about moving here, I was 66 and Sheila was 62. We very much felt we were on the younger side, and certainly weren’t ready for an old people’s home,” says Philip. “To help us make the decision, we came to stay for a night in the guest room and were very impressed by the set-up and atmosphere. It’s nice because at Royd Court you can be totally independent, but at the same time part of a Christian community.”
Although currently suspended due to lockdown, in normal times those living at Royd Court have the opportunity to take part in Daily Devotions in the lounge, often led by an outside speaker from a local church. It’s a time of encouragement and fellowship that helps to foster friendships across the housing scheme. Royd Court also has strong links with local churches, including Mirfield Evangelical Church, where Philip and Sheila attend.
During the lockdown, the courtyard has become a focal point for worship, including special services and singalongs marking Easter and VE Day. Residents gather at a safe social distance, some joining in from balconies and open windows. “The scheme manager, Vicki, distributes a daily briefing so we’re kept in the loop about what’s going on,” says Philip.
Like many of those living in our independent housing schemes, Philip appreciates no longer having to think about maintaining a property. Instead, he has the time to pursue his interests. As well as cultivating a handsome crop on his allotment, he’s a prolific writer. So far, he has five titles to his name, including A Beginner’s Guide to Church History (Day One, 2019) and The History of a Dorset Family, an exploration of his family history, co-authored with a cousin.
He’s also recorded a series on the Old Testament for Grace Baptist Mission Radio, designed to support English-speaking Bible students in India and Africa who have limited access to written teaching materials. “We actually did some of the recordings in the guest room at Royd Court,” says Philip, “It was quiet enough in there to record without picking up any background noise.”
With most of the family living at various locations across the North of England and Midlands, Philip and Sheila are within fairly easy reach for visitors.
“We feel we’ve made it easy for our family,” says Philip. “We have everything we need here.”