Shenley Wood Village resident and volunteer Marcia Gleeson, 75, discusses event planning, volunteering and giving back to the community she loves.
“Before I came here, I used to live near Lovat Fields in Milton Keynes, I had breathing issues and I knew I needed to change my living environment for the better. I went to look at Lovat Fields Retirement Village and they mentioned that Shenley Wood was being built just minutes away. That was over 10 years ago! I was thrilled to get a place at Shenley Wood. I have a first-floor corner plot here and life is so much better. I love my apartment and I am more than happy, it was easy to settle in.
We set up Allsorts, a resident-led fundraising group just before lockdown, after I understood the way the current shop was run at the village. There is a small group of us who spread the work between us, and we sell everything, apartment items, clothes, jewellery and much more. The shop opens twice a month.
Allsorts also run a number of events in the village. We held a Ludo championship where everyone paid £2 and they received chocolates, bucks fizz, fish and chips, and ice creams, it was a great turnout. Musical Bingo is also a favourite where we play a snippet of music from bingo cards and serve burgers and hot dogs. Our latest event was Ascot Day, where residents dressed in finery and enjoyed afternoon teas, Pimms and chocolate fountains whilst watching Ascot on a few big screens. We do this for the village and , people just kept saying ‘come on what’s next?’
Non residents are invited too but residents are given priority. We put the proceeds back into the village, and so far we have bought giant outdoor games with the proceeds and even a putting green! When the tickets go on sale, we have a queue at 10am and often sell over half the tickets on the first day. We would like to make these events traditions for us all to enjoy throughout the year.
I am also a part of the Residents Association. At the RA we work as a team, we are very welcoming and run afternoon teas to welcome new residents, recently we had 22 attend. For me, volunteering really brings the community together here. Everyone is there for one another, our woodwork group created dartboards for our games nights, and the sewing group created beautiful bunting for our Jubilee celebrations.
I’d suggest to new residents to try volunteering first, it involves you so much in village life and you feel a real sense of achievement.
During the pandemic we volunteered in any way we could. We delivered shopping and parcels to more vulnerable residents and even took shifts to man the doors to make sure we were careful with who came in or out. It gave us a sense of purpose.
I’m used to getting involved in activities and I’m also a member of The Red Hat Society which is an international organization intent on celebrating mature women with élan and enthusiasm. One of our helpers at Shenley Wood is nearly 90 and she is still such a great help, there is real camaraderie amongst us. The staff are an amazing team too, we have support if and when we need it from them, from the village and from everyone!”
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