Claire Haigh, of Darlington, has joined Middleton Hall Retirement Village, in Middleton St George, as its new marketing assistant after working for a senior centre in New York for three years.
Claire was a primary school teacher in Darlington and Portsmouth before moving abroad with her husband, Jonathan, for his work in the pharmaceutical industry.
Claire said: “I would have had to do a conversion course to teach and thought this was a great opportunity to try something new.
“I then absolutely fell in love with working with older people and I learnt a lot about the way in which the Americans base their lifestyle upon making sure their senior citizens have the best life possible.”
Claire joined the Glen Cove Senior Center, in New York, as a volunteer before progressing to assistant activities co-ordinator and latterly as PA to the director.
“When I came to Middleton Hall it was like a breath of fresh air and I realised they have the same forward thinking attitude to care that the Americans have, about older people’s health and living well. I’m so delighted to be working at Middleton Hall.”
One of Claire’s new roles as marketing assistant will be helping to promote the new Waterside bungalows which are being built as part of a £9m expansion at the retirement village.
The 35 properties, complete with triple glazing, wood burning stoves and PV panels, are the first zero carbon bungalows to be built in the country with the first phase being opened this summer.
Jeremy Walford, managing director, said: “Claire brings with her a wealth of experience from the way American retirement villages are run, where the emphasis is on living well in later life just as it is at Middleton Hall.”
“She’s already shown us how dedicated and passionate she is about the residents and we’re looking forward to her helping us organise events for them as well as promoting the new bungalows.”