Joan McLelland has never looked back since moving in to the £7m Weavers’ Court Extra Care scheme in Alnwick earlier this year.
Having previously lived alone in a poorly insulated bungalow close to the middle of Alnwick, Joan (pictured above) now lives in a warm and welcoming second floor apartment, with fantastic views over the surrounding countryside from her floor-to-ceiling windows.
And she’s also enjoying an active social life with her neighbours, too.
Joan said: “I don’t feel like I’ve only moved house – it’s been a real life-changing experience.
“I used to sit up half the night watching television, but now we all say we get to bed early and get up early, as there is always something to do.”
Joan has a sister in nearby Amble, and a niece in Manchester who both visit and call her regularly.
She said: “On the first night I moved in I called my niece and I said how much I liked it here.
“On the third night she rang me to make sure I was still alright and I said it was even better – and I’ve never had a dip.”
Joan has multiple sclerosis, but using mobility scooters means she can get around easily – it takes only 15 minutes to get in to town, or she can shop in the nearby Sainsbury’s supermarket.
Joan used to manage the Shell garage on the main road into Alnwick and previously worked in the local Plough Hotel, which her sister ran.
She said life at Weavers’ Court has been very sociable ever since she arrived, with scheme manager, David Curran, and activities co-ordinator, Liz Pratt, ensuring there is always a full programme for residents to enjoy.
“Everybody is very friendly; I feel like I’m on holiday. When we came to see the show apartment, if it had felt like an old people’s home, I would not have come across the threshold – but it felt like a hotel.
“It’s not what people expect; it has the same ‘wow’ effect on everybody.”
Joan said her new home was a big change from her old one.
“When I was in my bungalow, the windows were high up, so I couldn’t see people passing by from my chair. I also had to have the heating and lights on all the time.
“When I was still living there, David came to see me, and sold Weavers’ Court to me. He told me all about the activities. I said I wouldn’t be doing any, but actually I’m doing everything – knit and natter, selling bingo tickets, chair-based exercise; we’re going to try a sing-a-long, too.”
Joan is also involved in running the local branch of the MS Society, which now uses Weavers’ Court for its regular meetings.
All the rented apartments at Weavers’ Court are now occupied, but there are still a number of shared ownership apartments available.
Prices start from just £93,750 for a 75% share in a one-bedroom home; there is a weekly service charge and residents pay just £10 per week for unlimited heating and hot water.