We meet park home resident Ivy Gibbins, of Bedwell Park, in Cambridgedshire, who is still as enthusiastic as ever about the lifestyle after 28 years

Ivy and husband Alfred Gibbins moved to Bedwell Park in 1989. It was their quest to retire to the country that found them settle near the beautiful cathedral city of Ely in Cambridgeshire. Little did they know they would end up managing the park for sixteen years!

War baby
Ivy originally grew up in London with her three sisters and parents. In fact they all lived through the wartime London blitz. It was her mother’s sentiment that if they were to die, they would all die together. It must have been harrowing times as the street in which they lived sat in the middle of Surrey docks at one end and an ammunitions factory at the other. Both of which were prime targets. Ivy’s family were fortunate where others close by were not so.

Ivy had met Alfred at school and the childhood sweethearts married in 1951 at seventeen and eighteen years respectively.
Alfred was employed by the post office as a telegram boy prior to his national service with the RAF in Warrington, Lancashire. He wasn’t keen on enrolment but they found a room in a pretty cottage with a lovely old landlady in which both Ivy and Alfred could stay. They enjoyed leisure time together by taking advantage of the dance halls and entertainment in nearby Blackpool.
Ivy also got a job near Preston (which involved a six mile cycle!) where she helped make cooks jackets and boiler suits for the RAF.

Family times
Happily, Ivy had fallen pregnant and she moved back to stay with Alfred’s mother in London shortly before Alfred was demobbed. Their first home together was a council flat in Rotherhithe in London. Not an easy task lugging a baby pram up four flights of stairs!

Keen to escape the hustle and bustle of London, Ivy and Alfred bought their first home in Harlow in Essex. A more relaxed location in which to bring up their four wonderful children. (The family is much larger now with eight grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren and three step grandchildren! Betty says it’s always an expensive Xmas!)

Ivy was a busy mum but also sold Avon cosmetics on a part time basis. Alfred worked at a glass works making bottles which was a very hot working environment! In his spare time he enjoyed his role as a special police constable.

Once the children had fled the nest Ivy and Alfred started to contemplate a move to the country. It came with some resistance from the family but they are all now regular visitors and relish their trips to Ely!

Dream location, dream home
Ivy and Alfred were drawn to Ely in Cambridgeshire; steeped in history, heritage and culture with magnificent buildings, an amazing cathedral with 11th century origins and a beautiful riverside. The decision to buy a park home was to enable them to release some capital on the sale of their home in Harlow, whilst also being able to buy a home of their dreams.

And they found Bedwell Park! At that time the park was just being developed and modernised by Tingdene. Ivy and Alfred visited Wellingborough (location of Tingdenes showroom and manufacturing) several times as they selected their lovely Alpine lodge. At just 55 and 56 years old, Ivy and Alfred had the intention to find employment in Ely when out of the blue the well liked late Jim Gibbard of Tingdene suggested they take over the management of the Bedwell Park development! Up for the challenge, Ivy and Alfred managed the park for the following sixteen years! It was a lovely opportunity to welcome and befriend new home owners on site and liaise with head office. They enjoyed frequent meetings with Jim and his son Chris. Jim was an RAF man so they shared common interests!

An easier pace
It is now twelve years since Ivy and Alfred gave up their management responsibilities for a calmer and relaxed life. Alfred was a talented handyman and tastefully enhanced their lodge by building an additional porch at the front and back of the home, in addition to an attractive and stylish conservatory. They were a great decorating team with Ivy as wall papering expert and Alfred as painter!

Sadly Alfred passed away in 2009. It was a tragically sad time for Ivy but she chose to stay in their home and the environment that is familiar and safe. Fellow neighbours and residents were hugely supportive, typical of park home living comradery and kinship.

The home still looks in impeccable condition. It was repainted white recently which contrasts strikingly with the alpine eaves. The home is sited on a corner plot which boasts a large garden. Much of it is paved over now but Ivy says she still enjoys tinkering about amongst the plants.

Safe and secure
Ivy did however think it time to have the chassis and underside of the home surveyed. Often out of sight is out of mind but the chassis is what the home sits on so its condition and supports should be checked and maintained to ensure the home is stable and secure. It is advisable to ensure rust corrosion or other problems are detected before any greater problem manifests.

Ivy called specialists Park Home Chassis Services (PHCS) to survey under the home. The chassis fortunately was in sound condition but the home did require additional supporting. Homes many years ago were supported on jacks made of mild steel which were very prone to rusting. PHCS re-supported the whole home with PHCS HD supports – hot dip galvanised, the most durable and rust resistant available.

“I feel so much safer now”

“The PHCS team were lovely. Very polite and friendly. I am very pleased with the work which has provided me with peace of mind. I also have a 10 year guarantee”

The re-supporting of the home is just in time for the installation of Ivy’s new wet room.

Still smiling!
Ivy is eighty three years old now but you’d never guess it! She is very appreciative of her friend Margaret with whom she shares every Tuesday. She also doesn’t know what she would do without Dial-a-Ride which she uses every Friday to do her shopping and has enjoyed various day trips and mystery tours with them. Dial-a-Ride also offer daily luncheon trips but Ivy prefers her own cooking! Little wonder as she’s a great chef!

Ivy has witnessed many changes over her twenty eight years of park home living and it is absolutely heart-warming to observe the enthusiasm and happy advocate she still is today!