Living their best lives – Sheila Salter

Sheila Salter, 81, made the move to Durrants Village, in West Sussex, in June 2020. Sheila chose to move because she wanted to make the most of her later life – and she reveals she’s “never felt better”.

“There were many reasons why I decided to move, my husband, Terry, died in 2015 and all my family lived overseas. I was living in a five-bedroom house, which my husband and I had retired to, and I loved it. I didn’t have a huge amount of memories there but I loved the garden. However, as the years went on, the maintenance was becoming a bit of a worry. It got to a stage in my life where I decided to give up the garden and concentrate on having a really enjoyable last few years. I also liked the idea of living in a community area, and I’d often talked about moving somewhere smaller.

Durrants Village is only about 10 or 15 miles from where I lived before. When I came to see Durrants, I loved the look of it, including the grounds. Another attraction is that I know the area. There was no doubt in my mind that this was what I wanted.

I’d been living on my own since Terry died, and although I wasn’t feeling isolated, I was feeling extremely grateful for the life I’d led up to that point. There was no way I was going to waste whatever time I had left. I missed Terry dreadfully but it didn’t make me feel lonely.

The welcome I received when I moved in was amazing, including the telephone calls on the internal system (I had a 14-day quarantine when I moved in). People welcomed me and said we’d get together when we were allowed. And there were a few informal, socially distanced get-togethers outside. People go out of their way to make anyone welcome. I’ve been extremely happy here; I love it and I felt at home the moment I settled in.

During the pandemic, I’ve taken part in a line-dancing class outside, which was a way for me to meet people - I loved it, It was extremely funny. I’ve not had a chance to use the gym at Durrants, so I’m looking forward to going there and doing classes. There are so many possibilities here. We’re lucky because there are about 30 acres of parkland at Durrants. There’s a trail around the lake and there’s also a bluebell wood.

I thought I would really miss the garden I had at my last house. But, oh my goodness, the maintenance. My first thought when I moved to Durrants was that I wouldn’t have to do all that leaf clearing I had to do where I used to live.

The grounds at Durrants are so beautiful. We’re in the country but close enough to Horsham and Dorking not to feel isolated.

I find it really exciting to be here. I’m so happy to get to the age of 81 and still feel life is exciting. There’s so much to see and enjoy. We’re reasonably close to London and there’s a train that runs past the village, so access is easy if you’re not going to drive there.

I’ve never felt better. For me, moving to Durrants is fantastic. I’m really, really happy to be here.”

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