Swindonian retiree sets up home on old workplace site

By Jessica Durston - 3 August 2022

CommunityBusiness
  • Sheila Guyatt

    Sheila Guyatt

A former Burmah Castrol employee has taken up residence in McCarthy and Stone's Gilbert Place - located on the site she worked at for 18 years.

Born and bred Swindonian retiree, 87-year-old Sheila Guyatt, says she has truly found her ‘home from home’ in McCarthy Stone’s Gilbert Place Retirement Living Plus development on Lowry Way.

The site Gilbert Place has been built on, is the very place she spent the last 18 years of her working life.

The Gilbert Place development has been built on the old Burmah Castrol site - which is now more commonly known as BP - where Sheila had worked as a Personal Assistant for nearly two decades until she retired in 1990.

Sheila said: “I absolutely loved my job. I was very lucky to be the PA in Central Services as well as the legal departments, so I had a really varied role and no two days were ever the same. It also didn’t really feel like going to work in Wakefield House – it was such a beautiful building with some lovely restaurants, views, and decor that it felt more like going to a hotel each day. 

“When the time came for me to retire, the team threw me a fantastic leaving party and gave me some beautiful parting gifts, including nesting tables, bedroom furniture and pictures – which all look very good here in my apartment. I have such fond memories of my time working there, that when I saw the new apartments being built at Gilbert Place, it felt like fate, like it was my destiny to come back here.

“I also thought it was time for me to move on from my current home as I was living in a very nice flat, but it didn’t have a lift and, even though I am very active at the moment, I was worried that I would one day struggle to get up and down the stairs, particularly as I often experience back problems.

“I was also living on my own and beginning to become quite lonely, so I needed somewhere that would offer me the chance to make new friends, but also still provide the independence I need. That’s why I thought the apartments at Gilbert Place would fit the bill perfectly as it would offer me a more low-maintenance home in a community full of like-minded people, and so I put my name down there and then – I couldn’t wait!

“Unfortunately the pandemic did delay the building of the development for a while, but that gave me the opportunity to walk past the site each week and watch it grow; it was great to see it develop over time.

“I also couldn’t fault the McCarthy Stone sales team throughout the whole process. Liz Griffin in particular was absolutely excellent and she truly couldn’t have done more. She kept in constant contact with me to ensure I was updated on the various stages of the development - in fact, we spoke to each other so much we’ve now become good friends! I really can’t thank the team enough for their consistently high level of customer service.”

Since moving into Gilbert Place, Sheila has been getting to know the other homeowners.

She added: “I have a partner, Tony, who I’ve been with for 8 years - he has a dependent son, so they have their own place together just up the road. We do see each other a lot, but I was really keen to make some new friends, so that I had some company when Tony isn’t around.

"Liz puts on a Fizz Friday event each week so new homeowners who have moved in that week can meet each other – there are 16 of us here now, and we all know each other well already, which is just what I needed. I’ve even managed to reconnect with an old friend I hadn’t seen in 60 years who lives here at Gilbert Place too, which is just amazing! We recognised each other instantly and have now become friends again after all this time.”

Getting to know her neighbours isn’t the only thing Sheila does in her spare time, she is also a very active member of the local community, having been a volunteer at the Lawn Community Centre ever since it opened over 20 years ago.

She commented: “I’ve always enjoyed working in the local community – I simply like being with people – so I’m really proud of the work we do at the Centre; it certainly keeps me very busy!

“I help arrange lots of different events and groups at the Community Centre, including film shows, coffee mornings and indoor bowls etc., so it’s a great place to socialise and keep active. I’ve been inviting the other homeowners to join me at some of the upcoming activities, so I can’t wait to show them around.  Here at Gilbert Place we are already beginning to organise our own social activities such as cheese and wine, film shows and coffee mornings, and we often meet informally in the fantastic Bistro for lunch, too.

“Tony and I also really enjoy walking, and while I can’t walk as much as I used to, we’re really lucky that there are lovely woods just across the road from Gilbert Place, and if I wish to go further there is a bus stop outside the rear entrance. I try and get out and about as much as possible as I think it’s important to keep exercising as you get older.”

Gilbert Place comprises a host of one and two-bedroom apartments exclusively designed for the over 70s.

Sheila said: “I have a lovely apartment with a balcony which I’ve actually managed to turn into a little garden. My old flat came with a garden, and it’s one of the things I miss, but it was starting to become a bit of a struggle, so my little balcony now is just the right size. I’ve put down some artificial grass and have lovely plants out there too, so I’ve created the perfect place for me to relax in during the sunnier months. I also help to weed the beautiful, landscaped gardens here at Gilbert Place.

“This really is a fantastic place to live, and I’m convinced that I made the right decision to move here.   I’ve already recommended it to all my friends, so if anyone is looking to join our little community then make sure you get in touch with the brilliant sales team.”

Homeowners at the Gilbert Place Retirement Living Plus development have access to a welcoming communal lounge, which is said to be perfect for socialising with new neighbours, as well as access to landscaped gardens maintained by McCarthy Stone’s team, and a guest suite for when family and friends come to stay.

For those who may require a little additional help, Gilbert Place has an on-site Estate Manager, and an experienced team is on hand day and night to oversee the running of the development, and to provide tailored domestic support packages to suit individual needs.

The development also features its own bistro style restaurant serving freshly prepared meals every day, while secure entry systems and 24-hour emergency call points are said to provide added peace-of-mind.

Prices at Gilbert Place currently start from £240,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and £329,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Rental and part-buy, part-rent options are also available to make moving even easier.

The homebuilder says more than nine out of 10 customers would recommend McCarthy Stone to a friend, ensuring it has received the full Five Star award for customer satisfaction from the Home Builders Federation.

McCarthy Stone is the only UK housebuilder of any size or type to achieve this rating every year it has taken part in the survey.

Those interested in finding out more about the Retirement Living Plus development, are invited to call 0800 310 0383 or visit www.mccarthystone.co.uk/gilbert-place.

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