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Never too old to be a first time buyer

Age isn’t holding back Geoffrey Green from becoming a first-time buyer. At 98, the former tenant farmer on the Blenheim Palace Estate decided he was tired of being ‘chief cook and bottle washer’ so he opted to move to a retirement village. Report by ELLIE O'DONNELL

Having looked after himself for many years Geoffrey decided he couldn’t go another winter in the old house he was renting on the Blenheim Estate in Oxfordshire. After a holiday with a friend in nearby Richmond Letcombe Regis, Geoffrey was attracted to retirement-village life and bought a Village Suite at the new Richmond Witney retirement village in Oxfordshire.

Village Suites are specially designed for those who still want their own front door and independence but require some help with daily living. Geoffrey still drives – he passed his advanced driving test twice – and takes himself off to church eight miles away at Combe every week, but uses a mobility scooter around the village.

Geoffrey is the third generation of his family to farm the Blenheim Palace Estate. His son and grandson, Michael and Phillip have now taken over.

Richmond Village Witney

“I was a working farmer not a landowner," explains Geoffrey who rented a property on the estate. "My father said to me: “You must do everything a man can do, only better!”

Today the farm comprises 3,000 acres, and produces cereals, oilseed rape, potatoes, and rye grass for hay.

A seasoned traveller, Geoffrey visited China, Pakistan, Kashmir, Nepal, and the USA, mostly to learn more about farming practices.

Blenheim Palace is best known as the ancestral home and birthplace of Winston Churchill and as the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough.

“I once sat next to Randolph Churchill at a lunch at Blenheim Palace," Geoffrey recalls. "Harold McMillan also came on a shoot on one occasion – lovely man. We often had royalty on shooting parties."

Geoffrey, who has been widowed 18 years, has three sons, eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

A keen sportsman; he played rugby for Witney before the war and also enjoyed golf, cricket, tennis and snooker. However he now restricts his activities to playing scrabble with his friend Eileen Cave.

Geoffrey says “I’m very healthy, fortunately, and only been in hospital once, and that was overnight when I lost the top of my finger in a combine harvester! However, healthcare is on hand, and should I need anything in the middle of the night, a press of the button and someone would be with me in two minutes – that’s very reassuring.”

Geoffrey Green playing Scrabble with his friend Eileen Cave

Happily settled in his new pad at Richmond Witney, Geoffrey adds, “It was a surprisingly easy move. The staff are very pleasant, there are interesting other residents from different professions and I’ve made new friends.

"Activities are arranged the whole time, and I particularly enjoy playing Scrabble which I’ve been playing for 25 years.”

A village suite at Richmond Witney is priced from £250,000 and includes:

· Living room

· Kitchenette

· Bedroom

· En suite shower-room

The ‘hotel-style’ service living package includes:

· Meals that can be taken in the restaurant or brought to the apartment

· Daily housekeeping

· Laundry service

All utility costs are included and an on-site domiciliary care team can also provide help, if necessary, 24 hours a day.

For more information click here / 01993 764372

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