A General Manager's perspective on Audley village life

Nick Vincent, General Manager at our beautiful Audley Chalfont Dene retirement village in Buckinghamshire, joined the Audley team in 2017 and has made a lasting impression on owners and staff in the village. Nick talks to us about his experiences at Audley and how village life has changed in lockdown.

Nick has been at Chalfont Dene for almost 3 years and is an ambassador for the brand as well as making a terrific impact on the Buckinghamshire village itself.

From his younger days as front of house and ops manager at a luxury spa retreat and country house hotel, high-fiving celebrity footballers and chauffeuring Hollywood actresses in his Renault Clio (those stories are for another day!), Nick has always been ambitious and his team describe him as 'enthusiastic and fun' (well, that's what they told us!).

Since joining the Audley team Nick has made a bold impression with his popular events and teamwork, from arranging walking football to a spectacular fireworks night. Nick recalls one particular belly-dancing theme night that had owners dancing on the tables... they got them down safely of course.

One thing my experience has taught me is that you never 'know' what will work. Try new things and ask for feedback. People respect that.

We asked Nick how the life he has come to love at Chalfont Dene has changed during the last 3 months.

How has the atmosphere in village altered in lockdown?

I've felt a real team 'togetherness', especially at the start of lockdown. It's a strange experience with social distancing and everyone getting used to the new ways of working to keep us all safe, whilst ensuring owners adhered to the guidance.

What has been the biggest change to your role?

Feeling the safety of the village on my shoulders! I am obviously responsible for the normal day to day operational activity and standards, but this is a deadly virus and I take the safety of the staff and owners very personally.

What have you found the greatest challenge in lockdown?

Keeping the virus out of the village. Ensuring strict cleaning in communal areas, the consistent temperature checking and new procedures to follow, whilst also running the kitchen, shopping deliveries, new virtual activities and events, and keeping everyone informed and updated. It has been challenging, but the safety of the owners and my team make it entirely worthwhile.

Meet Waffle

After 2 years of telling my children no to a dog, I backed down and we purchased a puppy before lockdown. I had 2 weeks off work to settle Waffle in and it was like having a new born again. I thought the 4am starts were over but no! He has settled well and my kids and wife "love Waffle very much".

We can see how proud you are of your children, what has been your lockdown silver lining?

I recently took a little time off and my lockdown holiday has been an amazing opportunity for me to spend quality time at home with my family. The job can be hard with events and late nights and even more so during these times. Having time with my children and wife has recharged the batteries. My daughter has continued her pen pal scheme with the owners and learnt to ride her bike and my son has started talking (or shouting) so it has been a holiday of milestones.

Summer's football

My daughter is a talented footballer and was recently followed on Instagram by the England national football team, The Lionesses. They have over 250k followers but only follow 180 people so she was very surprised. She also won the lioness competition of 'Kick Corona' where she had to kick the ball in the wash bin and won a full official England kit worth £200. Her winning video is on Instagram.

What has been the nicest thing an owner has said to you about their life in lockdown at Chalfont?

The owners have been very complimentary of the team. Personally, the video messages and letters from family members thanking us for keeping loved ones safe have been extremely heartwarming.

Brighter days are in sight. What are you most looking forward to?

Seeing central office staff and other staff members back in the village, serving food on real plates, opening the gym and pool... and most of all being able to socialise safely with the owners. Some of the mesmerising stories I have heard in the past, from war stories, to decorated careers, to pets. I miss those stories.

Chalfont is a vibrant and fun village and we need a party!

Do we detect another fireworks spectacular, Nick?

Discover more about Audley Chalfont Dene in Buckinghamshire.