Living Life Beyond Limits: The Inspirational Journey of Pat and Stephen at Great Alne Park

Stephen Walsh (66) and his partner Patricia Hackett (78) are both residents at Inspired Villages Great Alne Park in Warwickshire. They moved to the retirement community four and a half years ago when there were only 25 residents. Both Pat and Stephen have thrown themselves into life at the GAP community and they love to get involved in a variety of different activities. Patricia has a background as a ballet teacher and has brought her love of dancing to the village, where she now heads up the GAP Tappers! This is a resident’s tap-dancing group who are currently choreographing a piece for the villages D-Day celebrations in June.  Stephen is a self-confessed film buff, regularly arranging biweekly film nights utilizing GAP’s amazing cinema. The couple also share an interest in outer space, with Stephen running a monthly ‘WHATS UP!’ group.  In these sessions, residents discuss all things planets, comets, constellations, and deeper questions such as ‘Are we alone in the Universe?’

It was the couple’s shared love of space that led them to take part in an amazing zero-gravity flight over the Atlantic recently. The cosmic encounter happened after they attended a book signing by Major Chris Hadfield, Commander of the International Space Station. 

They were inspired by Major Chris’ words “if you ever get the chance to experience weightlessness – grab it!” and so Stephen and Pat did just that. A month later they flew to Bordeaux, the home of the Novespace airZeroG, a converted Airbus 310 which is usually used by the European Space Agency for research and astronaut training. This unique experience is one that few get to participate, these sorts of flights are normally reserved for astronauts in training, not two retirees living in an Inspired Village.

Pat and Stephen had amazing fun and experienced the full effects of zero-gravity, bouncing around in a specially padded cabin over the Atlantic. They were joined on their voyage by French astronaut and Novespace chairman Jean-Francois Clervoy, a three-time space shuttle crew member.

people flying 1

Pat and Stephen live by the motto of; ‘’If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do or somewhere you’ve wanted to see, do it whilst you still can – who knows what’s round the corner as we get older. Life is made of memories’’.

 people memories

At Inspired we encourage our residents to ‘’live the best years of their lives’’, Pat and Stephen are a testament to that message, showing us all that age is truly no restriction when it comes to experiencing new and exciting adventures.

Stephen said: ‘’I subscribe to the idea of ‘staying young as we grow older’ with the aim of independent living. Both Pat and I engage in the Wellbeing activities arranged by the GAP team, contributing strongly to our physical, social, and mental Wellbeing. With the support of the GAP team and a flourishing community, we and our fellow residents enjoy a great quality of life in a stimulating environment. Pat and I are enjoying our retirement here at Great Alne Park, have made some great friends and are living life.’’

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