When a mod met a rocker!

Marian and Ron Gillings have faced challenges in life but as soon as they moved to Orchard Park, Langley in Berkshire, their heads hit the pillow and slept soundly.

No longer does Marian go to bed with knots of worry in her stomach. Since moving to Orchard Park they say it’s like every day is a holiday; reminiscent of bygone caravan holidays but ten times better!

“Park home living is a different way of life. We feel safe and are very fortunate to retire and relax with such lovely people around us”.

Early years

Marian and Ron met each other when they were just fourteen and sixteen years old respectively. Marian had grown up on a council estate in Dulwich, south east London and Ron had just returned to live on the same estate with his mother after he and four of his siblings had spent their whole childhood in an orphanage. In contrast to Marian, Ron recalls a fairly happy and caring upbringing with thirty two children in a ‘cottage’ with a cottage mother and father. Chores had to be done prior to school and homework had to be completed but he looks back with some pleasant memories and happy holidays.

Unfortunately Marian and her sister experienced a sad childhood and were under watch for cruelty to children.

When Ron – the new kid on the block – returned to the estate he would ride around on his Lamboretta and the girl who turned his head was Marian….

Finding their way

Marian left school at fifteen years and promptly got the sack after the first week of her first job! However her next job at Myers – the bed manufacturers – was much more successful where she spent several years as an addressograph operator. It was Marian’s first taste of financial freedom and she regularly participated in girls’ nights out with her friends and colleagues.

On leaving school Ron worked in several factory machinist roles, in addition to being a van driver and a lift engineer.

Marian and Ron both shared strong work ethics and throughout life they have worked hard to progress their financial standing.

Their childhood romance blossomed and Ron and Marian married in 1968 when Marian was just nineteen. Their daughter, Clare, was born several years later.

When Marian and Ron got married, they were intent on getting their first home together and enrolled with a new scheme called ‘Ideal Home’. The scheme didn’t continue for long but it was available to young married couples whereby if they spent £200 on furniture, living accommodation would be found for them. This resulted in a flat in East Dulwich but their dream starter home was soon marred by unsavoury neighbours.

Snakes and ladders

At the time, Ron was commuting each day from East Dulwich to Colnbrook, Slough, for work. It made sense for Marian and Ron to enrol on the council list for that area and eventually they were fortunate enough to obtain a house in Langley. In those days there was a good community spirit on the estate, a great place for little Clare to grow up, and to forge close friendships. In due course, Marian and Ron were able to buy the home and they lived there for thirty two years.

Over the years Marian and Ron invested a great amount of money and effort into making the home and garden special. They both worked, Marian sometimes holding three jobs at a time! Her favourite job was working with children with special needs and if she had her life over again she would have always worked in this gratifying field. Sadly this role came to an end with redundancy. In fact Marian says she’s also been made redundant by the grandchildren too as they are growing up and not so needy of Nan!

The culmination of a few things prompted Marian and Ron to consider park home living. Two years previous to them selling their house, a new neighbour moved in next door which completely changed the dynamics of the environment. The neighbour and boyfriends were insalubrious and objectionable, loud and aggressive. This resulted in Marian and Ron unable to enjoy their outdoors with escalating anxiety to live in the house.

Ron had also just had been made redundant form his ten year employment with Tefal and decided to take early retirement.

A new beginning

Ron had two wishes; one, to live in a park home and two, to live in the south west of England. Both of which were initially non-negotiable with Marian! She didn’t like the idea of pitch fees and there was no way she was moving area from friends and family! It was after they stayed with some friends in a park home that she started to warm to the idea.

Now, Marian wouldn’t swap their park home and environment for all the tea in China! They started looking at Orchard Park in Langley and on seeing the fifth home on site they knew it was ‘the one’. Beautifully presented with the requisite windows at the front of the home, they promptly put an offer in. They viewed it on the Wednesday, put their house on the market on the Thursday and the following Monday it was sold. Something tells me it was meant to be!

Marian and Ron moved on to Orchard Park in August 2017.

The move has been a complete breath of fresh air. Marian can breathe freely again, the knots of anxiety have dissipated and they have their own space and privacy – no loud music, traffic or parties!

That’s not to say Marian and Ron aren’t sociable! They have joined the Residents Association and thoroughly enjoyed the collective Xmas festivities, fish and chip suppers and generally mixing with the friendly residents.

Orchard Park is located at the end of a lane which embraces you with a sense of tranquillity, and there are plentiful country walks over the neighbouring fields.

Let’s get busy

Predictably, Marian and Ron have not rested since moving in!

Ron often meets up with friends and old work colleagues. He is a massive Chelsea Football Club fan and is a regular supporter at Stanford Bridge with friends. He is often seen walking around in his Chelsea hat. Marian on the other hand has no time for football!

Whilst the inside of the home is in good condition, Marian has got to grips with the outside garden area. The front has been dug out, areas bricked, walls jetted, turf laid and planting tubs at the ready.

A sigh of relief

Remarkably Marian and Ron’s park home is thirty seven years old! As so often the case, many park home owners spend lots of money on transforming and modernising their homes but neglect to consider the impact this has on the chassis and supporting structure underneath the home.

With aged homes the supports and chassis will suffer from rust corrosion and without attention this will increasingly weaken in strength. Furthermore, any extra weight imposed on the home puts additional burden on the supporting structure which may not be sufficient for the new load.

Fortunately Marian had the foresight to have the underside of their park home checked. “We were recommended to ask Park Home Chassis Services to conduct a full inspection under our home. We have nothing but praise for PHCS”.

“The surveyor was polite and thorough and provided us with a detailed written report of everything”. Marian and Ron weren’t shocked that the underside hadn’t been maintained properly and so PHCS carried out a full chassis refurbishment. PHCS removed the surface rust, applied a rust inhibitor paint to the chassis, tightened the coach bolts and re-supported the whole home with PHCS’s acclaimed high dip galvanised supports.


“The home feels a whole lot better! Everything feels tighter. PHCS has also improved the dip down the centre join of the home no end. It has given us complete peace of mind knowing the work has been professionally carried out by PHCS and that the home is now safe and secure”.

Marian and Ron can’t compliment the PHCS team enough; polite, friendly, respectful and knowledgeable. They didn’t stop for tea breaks, just got on with the work but we could have a laugh with them too!

‘To do’ list!

Now that Marian and Ron are settled at Orchard Park, they feel they can start to make plans. Never really affording or prioritising holidays they are now treating themselves to ten days away in Lanzarote, plus booking several coach holidays.

Ron has always aspired to a cruise for the two of them, so that ambition is now off the ‘wish list’ and on to the ‘to do’ list for 2019!

They also have booked for PHCS SnuggerFLOOR under floor insulation to be installed shortly in readiness for a cosy autumn and winter.

Just a few short years ago, Marian and Ron didn’t know which way to turn, faced with a living nightmare. Now, it’s becoming a distant memory and they can relax at Orchard Park in their special home with the space and privacy they had been craving. It’s all theirs and nothing is going to spoil it!