Article by Mike Milstein.
Barry Hunt grew up in the West Coast mining town of Reefton during the depression years and then went to work for the National Bank of New Zealand. As a bank manager after the share crash he had to call in bad loans. This stress led to a heart attack, which “changed my life completely. Since then I walk an hour every day and I’m on a Mediterranean diet.”
After a 41 year career Barry left his final post in Dunedin for Nelson 13 years ago—“the best place to retire in the world.” He stays fit physically and mentally and coaches sprinting, even taking teams overseas.
Barry does volunteer work, especially for the cancer society, helping raise more than $250,000 for research. He is also a charter member of the local prostate support committee, which provides information and support to men dealing with this type of cancer.
Recently Barry and his wife, Mavis, sold their home in the Wood and moved to Rutherford Retirement Village. “We hadn’t intended to move, but when the Village had a public day we came to see what it was all about. We were so impressed that we talked to others about making the move. Just about 100% said ‘don’t wait till you are too old.’
Barry and Mavis don’t miss the café life of Nelson. “We’re busier now than we were before. They have lots of daily activities here including a pool, a day trip once a week, morning tea, a longer trip once a month, a library, hairdressers who come in, and you can take the van into town for shopping.” These services bring people together often, resulting in a strong sense of community, which is important for everyone’s well being.
“The quality of the staff is great and we don’t have to worry about security or outside maintenance. We pay a weekly fee which covers insurance, water, rates and all maintenance costs. If something isn’t working properly they send someone out to fix it.”
Barry and Mavis are healthy and live in a town house. For those in need of more comprehensive services, such as preparation of meals, there are apartments. There are also plans for a small hospital and a dementia unit. Barry jokes that he likes his home, but would “happily go through all four stages if we live to 120.”
Barry doesn’t worry too much about ageing. “I just deal with it as it comes. As a 16 year old I looked at 60 year old people and wondering if I’d ever make it. I’m 77 now!” His advice to others is to “live life to the full, both physically and mentally. Enjoy yourself. Look to the future. Don’t look back too much.”
Note: This article, which was published in The Leader, Nelson, NZ, summarizes an interview aired on Nelson’s Fresh FM that was conducted by Annie Henry for the Conscious Ageing Network (CAN) and sponsored by Age Concern, Nelson. If you want to share your thoughts with CAN or wish to know when interviews will be aired, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .