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Max Dawson 

 “What appealed to me here was the openness. When you get a place like this with the trees and the views and the gardens, it’s just fantastic.” 

Alandale’s bowls set up has been in fantastic hands since Max Dawson arrived at the village.  

Max is one of the bowls convenors and plays bowls - outdoor and indoor – five times a week. He’s enjoying being the person who organises teams and collates results afterwards. 

Max, an ex-farmer from Matamata, who with his late wife also owned a florist shop in Whitianga, has been at Alandale three years. 

His partner died shortly before he arrived at Alandale and it was the first time he’d had to live alone.  Meeting people during the twice weekly social evenings at the bar and throwing himself into Alandale’s bowls scene made a huge difference. 

“People here were very supportive and I soon made friends playing bowls.”

Max was encouraged by his family to look for a village and says he looked at other places but none had Alandale’s open feel.    

“What appealed to me here was the openness. My villa has a lot of space and of course being a farmer, I didn’t want to be hemmed in. When you get a place like this with the trees and the views and the gardens, it’s just fantastic.”

Max is a talented musician and sometimes plays the piano pretty loudly at home. He was worried he might be annoying his neighbour.   

One day I asked my neighbour ‘does it bother you?’ 

“She said ‘I never hear it but I wish I could.’ That’s how well set up and private the houses are.” 

Max also loves the river and enjoys the river walk. 
“The trees are incredible. And when the kowhais are out you should see the tuis. One day we counted about 70 tuis.”

Max has outside interests including his first love – country music. He’s a member at Fountain City Country Music Club and sings regularly. The Hamilton club meet once a month but Max also goes to club days at country music clubs in Ngaruawahia,  Huntly, Cambridge and Te Kauwhata.

After dinners sometimes the staunch Johnny Cash fan will play the piano and lead a singalong. He really enjoys it. Fountain City Country Club is performing at Alandale soon and he’s looking forward to singing.  
Max was 77 when he came to Alandale and says he has a brother living in Auckland on his own who is not so fortunate. 

“He is finding life very difficult. My family are really happy about me being here because they don’t have to worry, they know I’m happy. They also know I’m safe. If I ever need to, I can press a gadget at home and it is answered immediately.”

“I really love it here, one of the best things I ever did.” 


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Francesca Durning  

 “I thought you’d need to be a millionaire to live in a place like this." 

The sight of the Waikato river flowing by and the pleasure of many new friendships made, have been a huge comfort  for Francesca Durning as she gets used to life without her husband. 

Francesca and Clem came to Alandale about a year ago when Clem was very ill. They knew their time together was limited and Clem wanted to spend it at Alandale. 

“I was unsure but I’m really happy we did. We had four months here together before Clem died. I’ve found Alandale a wonderful place of friendship,” says Francesca.  

“The river was what really sold Alandale for me. Other places are nice too but the river is  something that’s particular to Alandale as far as I’m concerned.”

Francesca, who met Clem at Turangi when she came out from Italy in 1967 to work on the Tongariro  hydro-electric project, enjoys the opportunity for peaceful contemplation. She often likes her own company and nothing brings her peace like the river.   

“I love walking, there’s a lovely walking track by the river. Anytime I feel like getting out, I just go. There are lots of people to talk to along the way. I love being out on Alandale’s  golf croquet field because I can just look out at the view of the river - the way it changes with the different seasons. You’d need to be a millionaire to live in a situation like this.”

When Francesca isn’t close to the water she’s out doing things. 

“People say I’m never home because I say yes to everything.  I feel so safe here at night and there are so many activities.  I go to the gym most mornings, I play golf croquet three times a week, I’ve learnt to play Mahjong and I’ve become quite a little bingo addict. I also swim a lot in the heated pool.”

Francesca also enjoys the social dinners, particularly the fact that they are geared up so she can meet new people all the time.  She has four sons who she keeps regular contact with and they are pleased she’s in such a great environment. 

“If I hadn’t come here I would have been alone and your children don’t want you to be saying that you’re lonely. It doesn’t bring any joy to the meetings you do have. I’d rather my four boys knew I was happy and active because that means when we meet, we meet in a good way.”

Francesca says the houses at Alandale are perfectly positioned so there’s great privacy.

 “I meet my neighbour sometimes when we’re out socialising. I say to her ‘I have to come down here to see you!’

“The people here are warm and friendly, they leave you your own space and they are accepting of all types of people.” 


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Margaret Gillanders 

“Do it now, don’t leave it too late. Come in while you’re younger. You’ll love it.”

If you ever wanted someone to organise a mystery trip, you could do far worse than Margaret and Don Gillanders.  The couple who have been married 53 years and at Alandale 13 of those, are the official trip organisers for the village.  Margaret recalls a recent jaunt which took residents to Ohaupo and then to Te Kuiti for lunch. They dropped in at a Lavender farm on the way back which ultimately took them to the road to Waikeria Prison. The bus driver got into the spirit and played along with the bemused looking passengers.  “We are going to take the back entrance to Waikeria because we have top class prisoners on board.”  The residents loved it.

Another trip took them to Waihi beach, lunch at the RSA and then Bowentown.  “They sat in a line on a bench eating their ice creams. They looked like kids.” There’s nothing Margaret likes better than making other people happy. She and Don are very active at Alandale.

Another highlight for Margaret was a gala day which she helped organise. Alandale’s patio was set up in a Mediterranean scene while a jazz band played, a magician performed and crowds enjoyed face painting, a sausage sizzle and a raffle.
“We’re planning to get the jazz band out again soon on a summer afternoon.” 

While Margaret does her organising, and also keeps a small card making business going, Don who has an electrical business, does part-time work around the village.  They have other outside interests; they’re active with their church and they have seven grand-children to keep amused.

Margaret can still remember how they sold their property in Rototuna Rd and a friend of their’s mentioned a villa on the market at Alandale.  “I said ‘I’m not living in Alandale.’”  “He said ‘just come and have a look’. That was on the Thursday and on the Friday we’d signed up. We just knew it was the right thing to do.” 

Until that point, Margaret had found retirement difficult.  Everyone used to go to work and she was left by herself.  “Don came home one day and I just burst into tears. I said “’is this retirement?’”  

Margaret’s daughter wondered how her mother would cope without her big garden which she would work in, rain or shine. But it hasn’t been an issue. At Alandale, Margaret was able to convert her front lawn into a garden.  “We had a competition against another village in Waikanae and our garden won,” she recalls.  She also grows vegetables, tomatoes and strawberries in summer at an allotment residents all have access to.  “This vegetable garden has the best view in Hamilton. You can go up there and look across the river.”

A big factor for Margaret is the safety Alandale provides. The grounds are monitored by a security company. She particularly noticed how she felt so much more secure in the village when Don had a spell in hospital. She doesn’t think she could go back to suburbia  because she wouldn’t feel safe.  “I was never keen to be on my own in suburbia at nights. Security is a really big thing.”

Margaret has relished picking up the craft of indoor bowls. She loves both the competitiveness of it and the camaraderie.  "When I don’t play I get withdrawal symptoms.”

What would she say to people thinking about Alandale?
“Do it now, don’t leave it too late. Come in while you’re younger. You’ll love it.”


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Graham and Helen Bell

“It’s not a retirement village – it’s a lifestyle village.”

Graham and Helen Bell lived in Flagstaff, only a block away, before coming to Alandale three years ago.  “We used to walk past and vowed and declared we’d never come in here,” chuckles Graham.  “But we really love it.”   Graham said they’d never thought of going into a retirement village. But Alandale had an open day and they knew people living here so they “went and had a look”.   

Helen could see straight away it would suit their lifestyle, while being close to shops and on a bus route was important to them.  “That’s a huge thing.  We have a grand daughter who comes quite often and I take her on the bus. Other retirement villages we’ve seen aren’t anywhere near a bus route.”

They are an active couple. Graham is an ex-Lion while Helen is a “people person”. They like to be busy.  “We’ve joined a lot of things here. We’ve become involved quite quickly. Everyone helps each other.”  

Helen is an Advisory Rep, keeping an eye out for residents’ welfare, and passing on worries to management, while Graham is on the social committee.  They’re both a fan of the monthly dinners in the village and the way residents are sometimes seated randomly so they get to know each other.  “I reckon it’s a great idea; I think everything should be like that really,” says Graham.  “There’s seven at a table and because there are a lot of women here, there might be only one man. I do a bit of a stir and leave them to it,” he chuckles.

Helen recently went overseas for a few weeks and Graham was well looked after by other residents.  “He hardly had a meal at home,” says Helen. “The people are great - that’s the main thing about Alandale.”

“But you don’t get people just popping in,” says Graham. “This is your own home, just like anywhere else,” he says.  “And it’s secure. You can walk out and leave the doors open. It’s also nice to know that if something happens to you, your wife is left in a safe environment.”

While they enjoy the organised activities, there’s plenty of room for spontaneity.  “Everything is not organised,” says Graham.  “You can just wander outside on the patio and look at the river. Someone brings a bottle of wine down here and a few snacks. And the outlook is lovely. In the summer all the trees are out. There were about 30 tuis out here the other day.”

What would they say to other people considering moving to Alandale?
“I would say this is a wonderful place to be,” says Helen.
“It’s not a retirement village, it’s a lifestyle village”.  


About Us

The Alandale Foundation bought the Village in 1996 and owns the land on which the village is located. The Village is run by a small team and governed by a Board of Trustees made up of resident and non-resident trustees. Being a charitable organisation means that profits from Alandale are reinvested into the community for the benefit of current and future residents.

Contact Us
P: 07 854 0468
F: 07 854 0680
Alandale Village
1199 River Road
Hamilton 3210