A look back at 2021

2021 began in a rather muted fashion. A Christmas and New Year overshadowed by dramatically rising Covid cases, regional tiering and new variants led us into our third national lockdown on the 6th January. It was a step everyone could sense was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier. And it took until May of this year to get some sense of normality back.

However, a different story emerged within our retirement villages across the country. As the year continued and vaccination rates increased by the day, our villages formed their own bubbles where virtual events soon could become socially distanced events, and ultimately ‘normal’ events. Our teams worked so hard to keep our property owners safe whilst also offering them a full schedule of events and activities so that everyone really felt the community spirit our villages thrive on.

We had everything from socially distanced birthday parties, flower arranging workshops, summer fairs, Afternoon Tea Week, coffee mornings and even village showcase events as the year went on.

None of this would have happened without our team members and owners who led the charge on getting everyone back together. I was so pleased that in October the Audley directors and I were able to host in person celebration events to thank all of them for their tenacity throughout the pandemic. It was a joy to hit the road and stop in at each village.

It was also nice to meet or reengage with owners that I’ve heard so much about during the pandemic. We’ve had Dr Salmon who’s been riding his tricycle round Chalfont Dene delivering home-grown lavender to owners, and of course the now infamous “Lavender Ladies” who turn this lavender into gifts for visitors.

We’ve also had various challenges taken on by those in the villages with everything from charity wing-walking to the Audley trek – the pandemic doesn’t stop us!

We’ve also had many new arrivals in the last two years as more villages opened around the country. It’s been heartening to hear from so many of the new owners how much they’ve benefitted from the move during lockdown. One gentleman told me recently that he had previously moved to be closer to his children but soon started to feel lonely in a small village on his own and wanted to feel part of a community. That’s when he found Audley Ellerslie. He didn’t know a soul at the village so before he even moved in our team had put him in touch with owners and they soon found common interests and are now his great friends. So brilliant to have like-minded individuals come together and become a part of our community.

When reflecting on this year it would be remiss of me not to speak about the amazing work our Audley carers have continued to do throughout 2021. They have worked tirelessly to support those that need them and I can’t thank them enough.

They truly blow me away every single day.

As Christmas now rapidly approaches and we all get into the Christmas spirit, there is a level of uncertainty once again appearing. In times like this, it is important to remember that we have done this before, and we will be able to do it again. Within our communities we can be resilient, and I have no doubt that we’ll once again come out stronger.

Wishing you all many happy returns and hope you have a fantastic Christmas surrounded by family, friends and loved ones.

Read more corporate and customer messages from Nick Sanderson.