How retired people can be the most charitable

It’s official. Studies confirm that older people are amongst the most charitable. Not only do the 65+ age group give most frequently, leading the way in terms of weekly and monthly donations according to the Care Aid Foundation, they actually feel most positive about making donations and future giving.

The retired homeowners living in Audley retirement properties are no exception. If you stay up to date with Audley Stories, you’ll know that that our industrious Audley staff and owners handmade 1,000 poppies for charity and regularly devote their time and money for charitable causes.

Supporting a good cause and contributing to the wider community are close to all of our hearts. Although naturally modest, our owners continue to lead active, engaged lives which have positive affects far beyond their retirement village.

We asked three of our charitable Audley owners to share their stories.

Help Rural Nepal

Mrs Hazell at Audley Redwood, Bristol

Mrs Hazell lives in her luxury retirement property at Audley Redwood, yet her efforts are enabling people to transform their lives 5,000 miles away in Nepal. Help Rural Nepal is a charity that has been supporting local communities in the remote Dhading district of Nepal since 2009.

Help Rural Nepal focuses on health and education, including rebuilding schools, delivering new books, computers, teacher training, toilets and assisting financing schemes to help farmers replace their livestock. Partnered with NGO Pathe Nepal, Help Rural Nepal equips locals with the skills needed to tackle the challenges they face and to build for the future. Action intensified in 2015 when an earthquake devastated the Dhading district, destroying houses, schools, roads and forcing locals into temporary buildings.

Mrs Hazell obviously gets a great deal of satisaction from her work with the cause:

“What makes the work worthwhile is seeing the progress that we are able to help them to make. We don’t dictate to them what to do. We give them the tools, education and facilities to enable them to make the change they want to see.”

Perhaps because the charity is small, it means that it’s very hands on. Fortunately, Mrs Hazell finds a willing fundraising partner in Audley Redwood. At the last Christmas Fair, she was provided with a stall to sell Nepali goods, such as scarves, which made wonderful Christmas presents.

She recalls

“We had a stall at the Audley Redwood Christmas Fair, which was absolutely brilliant. Audley got a lot of people in and we gathered a healthy total. Every penny goes to the charity. When we go out and visit the projects, we pay our own airfares.”

As Mrs Hazell’s work helps empower people in Nepal, living in a luxury retirement property allows Mrs Hazell to continue her charity efforts. Before moving in, she was limited to the company accounts, but now she can now visit the projects in Nepal.

“My husband had a stroke 25 years ago. Since moving to a retirement village, it’s given me the security to be able to go out there and look at the projects first hand. I know that my husband has plenty of company at Audley and people there to look after him if needs be.”

Mrs Hazell adds that her home at Audley Redwood enables her to get out and see more of the world. But she’s not the kind of person who spends long lying on a beach. She usually does an annual walking holiday – this year tackling the Fisherman’s Trail in Portugal.

Allegra's Ambition

Mrs Sturgess at Audley Inglewood, Berkshire

Mrs Sturgess’ granddaughter, a loving and spirited girl named Allegra, tragically died at 16 years’ old. Allegra was an accomplished athlete, heading for big things on the athletics track. Allegra’s Ambition, a charity set up in her name, is raising money to build an outside gym in Winchester, free to members of the public.

Mrs Sturgess, who lives at Audley Inglewood, shares her memories of Allegra:

“Allegra was so lovely in every way. In everything she did, she thought of other people. When she was playing a lacrosse or hockey match, if there were people sitting on their own, she’d go up to them and make them feel welcome.”

The charity has secured land and planning permission just behind Winchester Cathedral to build its open-air gym, giving everybody the opportunity to gain the benefits of exercise and activity. Very much in line with Allegra’s desire that “every child should be seen, heard and known and be able to share what talents they have.”

Efforts to raise money have been impressive. From a stall at the Audley Inglewood Christmas Fair to an evening for her charity at Allegra’s school of St Swithun’s. Winchester Cathedral had a packed-out memorial service with over one thousand in attendance.

There was also a memorial day in the New Forest, which included a marathon, a half marathon and a walk. The sporting participants, dressed in the charity’s pink, happily exhausted themselves raising £114,000.

“She was so loved,” says Mrs Sturgess. “There was one evening when I saw her at Christmas, that everybody was going to a dinner that I hadn’t been invited to. I said to her ‘you’d better get ready, or you’ll be late.’ She said, ‘no, granny. I’m not going. I’m staying with you.’ That’s how sweet she was.”

Some of the activities the charity put on include taking inner-city children, who had never been to the country, on a trip to Cornwall. Last year, volunteers (including Mrs Sturgess’ grandchildren) took thirty excited children to the coast. “They had a wonderful time” Mrs Sturgess remembers.

From fundraising, they’ve been able to buy a bus in Allegra’s Ambition pink. It’s the same colour that individual fundraisers wear too. “My niece and her husband trained to be Iron Men, and they raised £10,000 in one day,” she adds. Whether it’s a gentle walk in the country or climbing mountains in Tibet, people get active and get sponsored.

Something which the sporty and benevolent Allegra would no doubt approve of.

The Florence Nightingale Hospice

Mrs Lucas at Audley Chalfont Dene, Buckinghamshire

Mrs Lucas of Audley Chalfont Dene repeated history when she took on a charity swim which she’d previously completed thirty years before. The first 1000-metre swim, on New Year’s Day 1986, at Champney’s Health Resort in Aylesbury raised money to build a hospice.

A local paper described her as a “youthful granny” who, just hours earlier, had been wearing a party dress.

Immediately after the swim she even celebrated with a champagne breakfast!

This inspired a number of off-the-wall fundraising attempts, including half a dozen estate agents pushing a bed up and down hills for 30 miles and a gorilla-suited man handing out bananas.

At last, the Florence Nightingale Hospice was built, now celebrating three decades of incredible community service. Returning to the pool in 2017, Mrs Lucas completed the challenge again. This time joined by former patients of the hospice, eager to express their gratitude to the hospice. Mrs Lucas says:

“It is a really special place. Everyone who speaks to me says how welcome and understanding all members of staff at the hospice are. All the staff should be very, very proud of the place they have created.”

These are just three life-affirming stories of dedication and altruism from three Audley women determined to make a difference, and they aren’t alone.

Owners living in retirement properties in Audley Villages often lead full and fascinating lives and have plenty of stories to tell. We’ll try to unearth some more for you on Audley Stories.

Meanwhile, for more charity stories at Audley, there’s some more to dip into here.

To find out what makes Audley retirement villages unique and exceptional, read more about how it works.