Category Archives: News

The benefits of taking up a hobby at retirement age

It isn’t uncommon at Middleton Hall for residents in their 70s, 80s, 90s and even 100s to take up a new hobby or learn something new. Our team encourage everyone to get involved in activities and use the facilities for significant benefits to physical and mental well-being.


Above: Residents using the bowls green

A Hobby Isn’t Just a Sport

Many think that a hobby is solely sports related, but hobbies can include activities such as walking or swimming; there are the arts too and music, not to mention cooking, gardening or playing board and card games.

It is never too late to learn a new skill.

Facilities at Middleton Hall

Throughout the last decade, the range of facilities that we have been able to offer have only extended and been very well received by our residents. Our 45 acre plot now has:

  • A Pavilion and Bowling green
  • 9-Hole Golf Course
  • Swimming Pool with Jacuzzi
  • Spa including Therapy Rooms
  • Hairdressers
  • The Orangery
  • The Restaurant
  • Art Studio
  • Library
  • Nature Trails
  • And much more…

What are the benefits?

Taking up a hobby during retirement is proven to make life more enjoyable:

  • Keeping active and engaged helps to sharpen the mind
  • If you decide to take up a hobby within a group of people, this keeps you socially connected with friends
  • Helps you learn new skills with other likeminded individuals who share your passion
  • Physical activity leads to better health in general, due to the chemicals released by the body
  • Hobbies help to relieves stress and reduce boredom

Pets and Retirement

During retirement, pet ownership often increases, which is sometimes seen as a hobby in itself. Looking after a pet is a positive responsibility, especially dogs. This type of hobby encourages people to get out, admire the outdoors, walk their pet and explore nature whilst being showered with unconditional love. Many of our residents take advantage of our beautiful grounds with their pets and attribute their good health benefits to this.

We understand the importance of this companionship to many residents and can therefore accommodate pets in some of our properties (subject to availability). We want you to live retirement life to the fullest, even if that means bringing along your furry friend too!

The Next Steps…

Perhaps you haven’t found your hobby yet, which is why at Middleton Hall we host a range of different weekly and monthly activities to be enjoyed by all and we guarantee there will be at least one you haven’t tried yet!

Here are just a few of many:

  • Bridge Club
  • Aqua Sessions
  • Knatty Knitting Club
  • Tai Chi
  • Photography Club
  • Table Tennis
  • Scrabble Club
  • Choir

Contact reception team today to find out more about the facilities and events we have going on:

01325 332207 or email

Guide to Downsizing

 Don’t panic!

Property downsizing can feel like a big step; first due to moving out of somewhere you might have lived for a long time, but not forgetting the stress of having to make everything you own fit in a smaller space! But this doesn’t mean it is a negative thing, and changing your attitude towards it is often a great help.

Having one too many empty rooms and struggling with household chores is often the first sign that downsizing should be an option. It can definitely be hard to move out of a home – especially ones that have had families grow up in them – but for many it is the sensible next step. The act of downsizing isn’t in itself a move “down”, if anything it’s a move “up” – to a neater, more compact space where you can start to explore your new stage of life.

Think about more than just the property…

It’s not just the physical property to consider, but its location, the local amenities, the community, security, and opportunities available.

  • Do family or friends live nearby?
  • Can you connect to the people in your community?
  • How easy is it to get to the nearest GP?
  • What’s the nearest supermarket?
  • Do you need somewhere to walk the dog?

Even if you’re only moving down the road, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and your needs, especially if they’re subject to change.

Stay open-minded

Often downsizing is a lovely time for families to help sort through possessions; it brings back memories and gives a chance to evaluate the significance of everything that’s been amassed over the years. Having this opportunity is invaluable and means everything you bring to your smaller property is important to you – exactly what you need around you in this new stage.

Resisting the call to downsize will not make it go away – and keeping an open mind when researching the sort of place that you’d like to move to is important. Retirement villages like ours are a diverse community of new friends, background support, and future prospects, and we would love to have you.


Unfortunately, due to the developments in the Covid-19 outbreak in the United Kingdom, Middleton Hall have decided to cancel the Open Day scheduled for the 12th of March.

This is a precaution we are taking in order to protect our residents from any unnecessary outside contact, in line with us entering ‘Phase 2’ of our contingency plan. We do not wish to alarm anyone, as we do not currently have any reason to believe anyone in Middleton Hall is testing positive for the virus, but we would rather be proactive in our approach. A lot of our residents have vulnerable immune systems, and any steps we can take to protect them will be seriously considered.

‘Phase 2’ also includes restricted access from outside visitors in general unless absolutely necessary, so please ring Reception on 01325 332207 if you plan on coming to Middleton Hall for any reason over the next couple of weeks to check on the current recommendations.

Thank you for your understanding and your patience.

Recruitment Fair on Friday 6th March

Recruitment Event

Friday 6th March 2020


The Vision Room, Middleton Hall Retirement Village

Please sign in at reception.

This is an opportunity to:

  • See who we are and what we do
  • Register your interest in working for an employee owned company

Get your tickets here

Call 01325 332207 or email for more information

Pottery Class Paying Off with Ceramic Tile Art

Mary Burgoyne, a resident of The Waterside, wanted to capture the image of her beloved springer spaniel- Archie. Friend and Neighbour, Les, was asked to work his magic on something innovative and long-lasting for her to display in the home and have Archie’s memory live on for many years to come.

Les Simpson, who has worked on many art projects in recent years at Middleton Hall, produced a ceramic tile, using a white bodied clay which was fired to 1250 degrees Celsius.  This meant that, if carefully looked after, the article would last for thousands of years, exactly how Mary wanted it.

The Level of detail in the tile is astonishing

Les Simpson, left, presenting Mary with her new tile of Archie

A class runs at Middleton Hall every Friday for residents who work with Les to create pottery and improve their skills. Another perk of being a Middleton Hall resident.

Enquire at reception or call 01325 332207.

Second World War veteran Captain Jack celebrates 100th birthday

Article taken from The Northern Echo.

A SECOND World War veteran has celebrated his centenary alongside army corps with which he served.

Captain Jack Wolstenholme, who lives at Middleton Hall Retirement Village in Middleton St George near Darlington, celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday, February 16. He was joined by friends and family to mark the occasion, as well as representatives from the Royal Corps of Signals, which is also celebrating its centenary year.

He said: “I don’t feel a day over 70 and I’ve still got a full head of hair. Everything has been marvellous. A lot of old friends have come.”

Capt Wolstenholme, who lived in Stockton before moving to Middleton Hall, joined the Royal Signals in 1942 and was posted to 8 Corps Signal 41 line section at Catterick Garrison, where he completed his training.

He served in Italy from August 1943 and in 1945 was posted to New Delhi, India, where he dealt with the closure of the Colombo Station. After being de-mobilized in 1946, he went on to enlist in the overseas civil service and was posted to east Africa, working in Tanganyika, part of modern-day Tanzania and Dar es Salaam.

The Princess Royal with Officers of a Corps Signals, Home Forces

It was during that time he met his wife, Wendy, who was the daughter of his mentor Scotty Purvis. The couple married at Egglescliffe Church in 1958 and went on to have three sons, Robert, David and Paul. Both David, who attended the event after travelling from Afghanistan, and Paul, who fought in the Falklands War and died in an accident in 2010, went on to serve in the army.

During the next three decades, Mr Wolstenholme travelled the world, working with ICI and the Overseas Development Agency, working on agricultural projects, before taking up a series of contracts in places as varied as Malawi, South Yemen, Peru and Tanzania.

In 1988, the keen gardener retired to Stockton with Wendy, until her death in 2003, and moved to Middleton Hall in 2015, aged 95.

Manager Debby Lamont, speaking on behalf of managing director Jeremy Walford, said: “He is a hugely respected and much loved member of our community. He always brings charm and knowledge to any conversation.”

The event was attended by Darlington Mayor, Councillor Nick Wallis, Captain Barry Hunter, of the 50 squadron Royal Signals, VP RSA Ray Jeffrey and vice Lord Lieutenant Alasdair MacConachie, who presented Mr Wolstenholme with a card from the Queen.

His son, Richard said: “We are as proud as punch. Congratulations to the Royal Signals on their centenary and a huge thanks to them for coming along to help dad celebrate and allowing him to celebrate with them.”

Former BBC Controller’s distinguished sporting career highlights

Ahead of this summer’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a resident of Middleton Hall has been reflecting on a distinguished career in TV sports broadcasting.

Duncan MacEwan, age 95, who retired as the BBC’s Operations and Engineering Controller in 1984, oversaw the TV broadcasts of every Summer and Winter Olympic games from the 1950s to the 1980s. 

International television coverage of the Olympic Games was first broadcast in 1956.Duncan recalls visiting every location ahead of each event throughout his career.

“It was vital to get everything right for the broadcasts so I went on a pre-tour to check all the technicalities were in place.

“I was especially pleased that I did this at one of the games when I discovered that no-one had booked any cameras for the film crews which I had told them they must expect!”

Duncan, who moved to live at Middleton Hall Retirement Village in 2019, is also very proud to have been responsible for bringing golf to TV screens in the UK.

In 1954, when television had only just started transmitting beyond the South East of England, Duncan instigated the first live coverage of the famous Welsh golfer Dai Rees practising live on air.

“This little item seemed to please golfers all over the country,” Duncan added. “Fired with our modest success we suggested to the BBC’s Head of Television Outside Broadcasts, Peter Dimmock, that we could televise the 1955 Walker Cup at St. Andrews, the biennial match between leading amateur golfers from the US, Great Britain and Ireland.

“Providing hours of lovely free TV programming over two days at a time when the network was normally ‘asleep’, seemed a tempting proposition: there was of course no regular daytime television in 1955.

“Peter was a dynamic and highly competent production man with a wartime flying background and was very much sport-orientated. He went on to become presenter of Sportsview and Grandstand and the idea appealed to him. He said ‘Just hire me a “chopper” Duncan’ and he came up to visit the site.

Duncan’s next hurdle was to convince Brigadier Brickman, the then Secretary of the oldest and most prestigious golf club in the world, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (the R&A), of the need to run cables along the course that would have to be placed underground.

“I must say the Brigadier didn’t blanch and took it well and I was then charged with walking the course with the Head Greenkeeper to agree what might be done without any desecration of the ‘holy ground’.

“In addition I was present for every yard of the trench that was dug, various large cables being quietly dropped in as we went. Worse was to follow when we would have to locate a potentially disruptive noisy power generator along the course but thankfully we managed to site it into a bank. Happily there were no complaints during the practice rounds so we were allowed to successfully complete our intricate task.”

Duncan’s experience of the occasion was also notable for another reason:

“It was my first encounter with the great Henry Longhurst, who was the BBC’s commentator for the event. I met him and climbed the camera scaffolding tower ahead of him. When I put his haversack down I couldn’t help but notice an unopened bottle of whisky peeping out!

“Henry did a first class job throughout the two days. When I returned to see him back down after the first day, I picked up the empty bottle from the floor of the commentary box and noted what good taste he had in single malts.”

Coverage of the oldest and most prestigious golf tournament in the world, The Open at St. Andrews followed in July 1955 using the same technology.

“This led the way to regular full-scale coverage of golf tournaments on British television, with interest growing year by year. The rest is history,” added Duncan.

“Golf is now so popular on television that producers have access to a multitude of facilities.  It was by no means like that 65 years ago when television was black and white, there was only one channel and we had no way of video recording play. Furthermore, the three cameras we had required careful handling as they weighed some 45 kilos each!”

Duncan faced an unusual challenge during the filming of the 1956 Canada Cup golf tournament at Wentworth.

“I noticed that the picture from one of the camera towers was shaking and spotted that there were a couple of chaps seated on a plinth just below the cameras at the top and one was swinging his legs over the side, 70 feet up.

“I hastily ascended the metal ladder to the camera position only to find that the two offenders were the BBC’s own Director General, Lt. General Sir Ian Jacob and his guest, none other than Group Captain Douglas Bader, the ace Second World War pilot. Upon my arrival I am pleased to say that the Director General’s leg-swinging stopped immediately!

Duncan still enjoys watching golf on television in his suite at Middleton Hall and has very fond memories of his time at the other side of the screen, which also included overseeing the outside broadcasts of several royal weddings.

“It was an awful lot of fun and I wouldn’t have changed my career for anything. I was very fortunate to have worked with such good, dedicated people around me, who shared the same level of BBC commitment to the ever-growing golfing and viewing public.

“But even more importantly, outside work I had the backing and support of my wonderful wife who gave me our four lovely daughters.”

Duncan MacEwan now lives at Middleton Hall Retirement Village

It’s all About the Birds

This week has ‘flew’ by

For residents in Middleton Oaks and Middleton Gardens Independent Living this week their days have, quite literally, flew by as they both experienced trips out spotting birds in the local area.

RSPB Saltholme

On Thursday 23rd January, Middleton Oaks residents travelled 15 miles to RSPB Saltholme to get up close to a variety of different types of birds including terns and yellow wagtails which are great to see in these specific wetlands.


The facility provides a viewing area meaning we didn’t have to stand outside in the cold!

Enjoying the beautiful scenery

Big Garden Birdwatch

Middleton Gardens residents had a slightly different interaction with the birds this season as they took part in the National RSPB bird-watching scheme known as the ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’, which is on for two days in January across the country.

Community facilities, retirement villages and even people from their own homes get involved to see what species they can spot for one hour anytime between 25th and 27th January. This is then recorded and reported back to the RSPB.

So residents took to their binoculars, guides and notebooks to see what they could spot.


Middleton Hall has a superb range of birds, thanks to its wide variety of habitats. Since 2010, an impressive 92 different species have been recorded.

Key Fact: Did you know that bird watching is most successful between early morning (when the sun rises) and mid-morning? During this time birds are the most active therefore it is likely you will see more species.

Emily on the fast-track to her dream career

A psychology graduate who has set her sights on a high flying career in health and social care is joining the team at Middleton Hall. 

Emily Bowering, 21, from Harrogate, who graduated from Newcastle University in 2019, is working at our retirement village as part of a national scheme to develop future leaders in the sector.

Emily Bowering (Above)

The prestigious Skills for Care graduate management programme, run by the charity responsible for workforce development in adult social care across England, fast-tracks graduates towards leadership roles within innovative health and social care settings.

To be selected, candidates have to complete a rigorous selection process including video interviews and assessment. 

Emily said she was ecstatic when she found out she had been chosen to join the 2019 cohort.

“Although I’m pretty sure my parents told the whole world before I got a chance to,” she added.

“I applied for Skills for Care because I knew I wanted to go into Health and Social care, but I didn’t know where to start and their programme had by far the most holistic approach to developing a graduate’s skills.”

Throughout the year, in addition to her placement at Middleton Hall, Emily is undertaking a Quality Assurance Project Management Qualification, a six month NHS focused development programme called the Mary Seacole Leadership Qualification, a six week secondment at a local facility of her choice, and receiving one-to-one coaching from a trained professional. 

Emily commented: “Bearing in mind my degree subject, I would love to look more at mental health within the health and social care sector, but at the moment I’m enjoying each day as it comes.”

“In my role at Middleton Hall every day is so different, and I’m doing a wide variety of things, including writing newsletters, running social media, designing leaflets, editing website code, hosting events, organising surveys.  The change is what keeps me on my toes.”

Middleton Hall’s Managing Director, Jeremy Walford said: “Middleton Hall was selected by Skills for Care as a host employer that could offer suitable support, training, learning and development for a graduate placement and we’re delighted to welcome Emily.

“In the short time she has been with us she has already made a valuable contribution to life at Middleton Hall and we are looking forward to supporting her to develop her skills and potential.”

Emily added that one of the highlights of her time so far has been Middleton Hall’s setting, nestled in 45 acres of woodland and parkland.

“I’ve only ever worked in sectors like retail, customer service, cleaning or accounting, which are very indoor jobs, so being surrounded by such a lovely place every single day is incredibly refreshing, and it always makes me feel so positive and connected with the world.”

On Wednesday 29 January 2020 Middleton Hall is holding its first recruitment fair of 2020 offering a chance to meet its service managers, see the facilities and learn more about career opportunities.  

In March 2019 Middleton Hall become the first retirement village in the UK to become an Employee Ownership Trust when ownership of the business was transferred to its staff and the event also provides an opportunity to find out about the benefits of being a co-owner.