Sheila and Mick are an active, healthy couple in their early eighties who live very independently in Clúid’s sheltered housing scheme in Holy Cross Gardens, Killarney. From baking cakes for the coffee mornings to offering lifts and washing their neighbours’ cars, these two residents play an important role in bringing neighbours together and making the community what it is today.
Sheila moved over to the UK in the forties to look for work. It was there that she met Mick, a native of London. Sheila and Mick moved back to Sheila’s home town in 2008.
Sheila: “About 10 years ago we came home for our 50th wedding anniversary and I decided then that I’d like to come home. One day I saw this advert from the Safe Home Programme inviting applicants to return to Ireland so I wrote them a letter.
“I’d heard good things about these sheltered housing schemes. We had a look at one of the homes before we came back and we loved it. I wouldn’t swap it for the world. Lovely to be back home. I love the community. We’re blessed with neighbours. And I love where we’re situated”.
Mick: “Over a period of living here you know who you’re likely to see early in the morning. When we arise I’m always awake first. I put on my hat and coat and I go and get the paper. On the way out I know there are two people I’m likely to see either going up for a milk or a pan. So if it’s bad weather I offer them a lift up there and back. More often than not I get a refusal anyway because people here are fiercely independent. There’s one lady here that I
get papers for on the weekend. She walks with a frame. And when she comes into the coffee morning on a Tuesday she pays my wife for the paper. And she’s the oldest one here isn’t she?”
Sheila: “92. And she’s marvellous”.
Mick: “Oh she’s sharp as a tack, she is. Really sharp”.
Sheila: “I make a cake every week for the coffee morning and the exercise class. Sometimes I make apple pie. It depends what mood I’m in. I also do the exercise class on a Thursday morning for half an hour. Thursday afternoon we have art class. A resident teaches the art class, another resident takes the exercise class, and the coffee morning is done by Kathleen and another resident”.
Mick: “We’re still active. Most of them here need some assistance but we’re free from all that”.
Sheila: “Yeah we’re lucky. Touch wood. Considering we’re both in our 80s. Mick’s very active for his age. He’ll go out washing cars and helping people, running here, there and everywhere”.
Mick: “The way I see it you can be surrounded by all the causes and good bodies but, no matter what age you are, you really have to help yourself and contribute to get the best out of life”.