Realise your dreams…

Jim and Michelle Priestley have lived at Dales View Park in Salterforth for the last seven years. They love it so much that they have sold their touring caravan as they can’t find anywhere prettier or more tranquil to holiday than where they live!

Jim and Michelle are entertaining and fun often making humour of their own struggles and experiences. But throughout their lives together they have shown spirit and energy to try new things and achieve their goals.

Starting out

Both Jim and Michelle are from Lancashire. Michelle grew up in Burnley where she studied at grammar school until her A-levels. In fact she left during her A-levels to join her father in the family butchery business. She had worked as a Saturday girl since she was thirteen years old and earned all of 50p per day – apparently that was child rate pay! After the business closed Michelle found various retail and administration jobs.

Jim was originally from Leigh. He didn’t enjoy his studying days as much and was happy to leave school at 15 years. Initial desire to be a car mechanic didn’t materialise but he was soon employed at Affleck & Brown Ltd, retailer in Manchester. Jim explains that the store was very exclusive and much like the TV series “Are you being served?” Even to the extent that the phrase “Are you free…?” was custom! More outrageous was that Jim was sent for elocution lessons before he was allowed to serve any customers!

On the buses

During this time Jim attended college to study retail management but was somewhat disgruntled that after qualification 3 years later his pay was only increased from £3 and 15 shillings a week, by just 10 shillings. In protest he left and joined his father on the buses as a bus conductor which gave him an increased salary of £11 overnight!

Jim later joined the Royal Navy which was great fun – different ships, different people, and different places. Say no more! He left six years later which was a regret of his for some time after.

Jim and Michelle met when National Express launched a new Burnley to London service. Michelle had been employed as a hostess to greet passengers, make coffees and sandwiches and generally look after people. This was Michelle’s first taste outside of Burnley. No guesses as to who the driver was. Jim!

Last orders

Within just three months of knowing each other Jim and Michelle rented a small place in Burnley and moved in together – much to the dismay of Michelle’s dad!

It was before the time of Internet and Google search but Jim and Michelle decided they quite fancied the prospect of becoming licensees of a public house. Much bed time reading was spent trawling through books which they obtained from the local library on how to run good pub. As a result, they ran two different Whitbread pubs in very different locations, the first more suburban in the Cotswolds, and the second a busy town centre pub in Lancashire. They hadn’t realised at the outset just how demanding the job is working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. In all, they were licensees for six years. When asked the positives of being a publican…there seemed to be a delayed silence!

Creative craftsmanship

In 1993 Jim and Michelle bought a tiny house in Burnley. It sounded pretty dire. The kitchen was a damp lean to with nothing but a sink. With little money to make immediate improvements Jim improvised with tea chests and other bits that he found on skips to start furnishing the house. For 12 months they were unable to afford carpets so they tacked old curtains to the floor to try to stop draughts. Jim’s DIY skills came to the fore. He built the carcasses for cupboards in the kitchen and each month they would afford a new door. Jim mainly refurbished the whole house. Eventually they bought their first UNO sofa; the ultimate relaxation!

Fortunately Jim was always keen on woodwork and has been a very able handyman. Over the years he has also honed his skills in scroll saw work and creates most the wonderful and intricate craft work with wood. In fact he now has a dedicated shed at their park home which houses his various tools and working machines.

Michelle has kindly put her sewing skills to good use and has made Jim a red pinny for when working in his man cave! Michelle has real flair for interior design and as a seamstress. There was a time when Michelle would make all her own clothes but mostly she creates attractive furnishings for the home and also commissions for friends. Little wonder their park home is presented so beautifully.

Achieving goals

Jim and Michelle sold their little house in Burnley in 1996 as they moved into Michelle’s parent’s home when they had sadly died. This did create a little financial freedom for the first time for Jim and Michelle – they stayed in the home for 15 years.

It was during this period that Michelle was working in a day centre for the elderly and it rekindled childhood desires to be a nurse and for caring for others. She decided she would like to work with people with disabilities and set her mind to achieving just this!

Michelle attended night classes for two years to achieve the A-levels required for university entry. She then studied for three years full-time at Salford University and in 1993 qualified in BSc Honours for Occupational Therapy. This demonstrates the tenacity and determination Michelle has, however she cannot stress enough the support, both financial and emotional, that Jim gave. Michelle says she could not have achieved her ambition without Jim.

Michelle worked as a full-time therapist in East Lancashire but has now taken early retirement and works two days per week. Jim is now also retired which means they have valuable time to share with each other.

As fortune has it

In 2011 Michelle started thinking about a new home that would be one-storey and more manageable as they age. Bungalows were proving remarkably expensive, they had sort of touched on static caravans but when Jim had been delivering fencing at Dales View Park that triggered everything!

Jim and Michelle had sold their home, so they approached the then owner of Dales View Park, Peter Tomlinson, who invited them to visit. At the time Michelle had investigated newly manufactured park homes but when they were invited to view a park home for sale on the site, that original idea was thrown out the window! They had never actually been inside a park home but they instantly fell in love. It had been furbished to a high standard so the appeal of no DIYing was immense for Jim! (At the time he was also suffering from two slipped discs). The park home is one bedroomed which seems to be the only compromise they have made. The kitchen, bathrooms, terrace were all newly done. The views of Ingleton and Malham from the front of the home are breath taking.

PHCS, the underfloor experts

Although the park home was evidently in good repair throughout, Michelle had been wondering about the underside of the home which they did not know about. They were unsure of the condition of the chassis and were experiencing chilly, draughty winters. By Michelle’s own admission she researches everything to the nth degree. She had first read about Park Home Chassis Services (PHCS) three years previously but had continued to Google the company and read the many reviews. Finally she called PHCS to survey under their home.

“We were really impressed. The accolades and testimonials we had read were valid! Michael, the PHCS surveyor, was fantastic. He was friendly and professional and explained everything thoroughly. Most impressive, there was no sales persuasion. I think this is a general opinion of PHCS as they don’t pressurise customers or recommend work that is not needed”. PHCS send a fully detailed report with photos, and recommendations with written quotation, after the site survey.

Jim and Michelle decided to have the chassis refurbished by PHCS to bring it back to best condition and ensure everything is protected and stable for the long term. To address the chilly winters and rid the draughty floors, Michelle and Jim have also commissioned PHCS SnuggerFLOOR. “We are looking forward to a cosy winter this year!”

At home with friends

When Jim and Michelle moved on to Dales View Park they did not know anyone. At the time there were 77 homes on the park, now nearer 100 homes but just as pretty and special.

Michelle said that at first they treated park home living in the way they had always lived in the town, just waving to neighbours and odd acknowledgements.

However, it was when a Residents Association was established (Jim became Chairman) that they started to meet people properly. As events and gatherings took place their social circle and friendships evolved more and more. Jim and Michelle boast more friends than they’ve ever had and relish time spent with them.

Jim and Michelle have found the perfect balance in their lives. They have independent private life but also a fantastic social life which is respectful of personal space also. The age group on the park is 45 to 95 – variety is the spice of life! It’s wonderful that so many of the residents get together for the many parties on the park – dancing and music, with residents bringing food and their own drink.

Jim and Michelle have worked hard throughout life to achieve their aspirations. They genuinely couldn’t be happier. They want to enjoy what they already have and keep enjoying it! They have no intention of ever moving from their lovely park home and friends. Quite simply life on Dales View Park ticks all the boxes!

In an Nutshell

  • Jim and Michelle wanted to find a home that was suitable and manageable in older age
  • Park home living has enabled a great social circle for Jim and Michelle, and they have gained strong friendships on the park.
  • Although their home is well presented, it is over 10 years and Jim and Michelle realised the importance of checking the chassis and condition underneath
  • Michelle researched PHCS thoroughly so that they could be confident in their expertise and professionalism