A first-time buyer at 98? It might seem unusual, but for Geoffrey Green it was the most natural thing in the world.
Geoffrey Green was a tenant farmer on the Blenheim Estate in Oxfordshire, and at the age of 98 decided that he’d had enough of being ‘chief cook and bottle washer’, and it was time to move somewhere more manageable, and be looked after for a change. Geoff has recently moved to a an apartment at the new retirement village at Witney, Richmond Witney, and in doing so has become a first-time buyer at the age of 98!
Literally born into farming - he was born in the Manor House where he then lived for many years - Geoffrey was the third generation of his family to farm the estate, dating back to his grandfather in 1878.
Widowed 18 years ago, he had met his wife Eileen at a Young Farmers’ dance and they married when he was 24. He has three sons, eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. But having looked after himself for all those years, he decided enough was enough and couldn’t face another winter in the old house, and became a first-time buyer at 98 by buying a Village Suite at the new Richmond Witney retirement village in Oxfordshire.
The move followed a short holiday he and a friend had enjoyed at Richmond Letcombe Regis in South Oxfordshire where he was so impressed with village life, he decided to find out more.
He now owns a Village Suite with Assisted Living at Richmond Witney, which has been designed for those who want to retain their independence door but require some help with daily living. It comprises a living room, kitchenette, and a bedroom with en suite shower-room.
This comes with a hotel style living package, intended to take away the chores of daily life and allow people more time to enjoy the things they prefer doing. This means that all meals are provided, and can either be taken in the restaurant or brought to his apartment, plus there’s a daily housekeeping and laundry service. All utility costs are also included.
And should Geoffrey require care at any time, this is available from Richmond Villages' own on-site domiciliary care team who can provide as much or as little help as is needed, 24 hours a day.
About his health, 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.
“I am very happy here,” says Geoffrey. “It was a surprisingly easy move, and I wouldn’t want to go back now. 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.” He has a special old board with grids that hold the letter tiles in place. It also has a turn table so it can be rotated.
Geoffrey attended New College School and Magdalen College School, Oxford, before going to London University for a year to read engineering, but in his own words “spent too much time playing rugby”, so started work on the farm, which is now run by his son Michael and grandson, Phillip.
Says Geoffrey: “I was a working farmer not a landowner, and 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.
Blenheim is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, and the family home of the Duke of Marlborough. Geoffrey has so many memories of his life there. “I once sat next to Randolph Churchill at a lunch at Blenheim Palace, but he didn’t talk to me, while Harold McMillan came on a shoot on one occasion - lovely man. We often had royalty on shooting parties.”
Geoffrey has travelled extensively throughout his life, mostly looking at farming in other countries: China, Pakistan, Kashmir, Nepal, USA. He also participated in farm exchanges and made many good friends. One farmer friend in Washington State picked him up from the airport in his twin-engine Citation plane, and then flew him around the farm in his Bell Jet Ranger helicopter - he was the world’s largest potato farmer. “But England is still the best country in the world,” he says.
A keen sportsman - he played rugby for Witney before the war, golf, cricket, tennis, snooker and had a full-sized table at his old home. He still drives a car - he has passed his Advanced driving test twice, and drives himself to church eight miles away at Combe every week, while using a mobility scooter around the Village.
So it just goes to show, you're never too old!