Never too old to get on the housing ladder

FIRST TIME BUYER: 98-year-old Geoffrey Green

IT is well established that first time buyers in the UK are getting older but one man has waited more than most and just bought his first home at the age of 98.

Geoffrey Green was a tenant farmer on the Blenheim Estate in Oxfordshire and was born in the house where he lived for many years and has been looking after himself since his wife died 18 years ago.

Now he said he has had enough of being ‘chief cook and bottle washer’, and it was time to move somewhere more manageable so he has bought a retirement home where he can welcome his family which includes three sons, eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

He now owns a village suite with Assisted Living at Richmond Witney, which has been designed for those who still want their own front door but require some help with daily living. It comprises a living room, kitchenette, and a bedroom with en suite shower room and he has taken a hotel style living package.

This means that all meals are provided, and can either be taken in the restaurant or brought to his apartment, plus there’s a daily housekeeping and laundry service.

“I’m very healthy, fortunately, and only been in hospital once, and that was overnight when I lost the top of my finger in a combine harvester. However, healthcare is on hand, and should I need anything in the middle of the night, a press of the button and someone would be with me in two minutes, that’s very reassuring,’ he said.

“I am very happy here. It was a surprisingly easy move, and I wouldn’t want to go back now. The staff are very pleasant, there are interesting other residents from different professions and I’ve made new friends,’ he added.

Unlike many first time buyers he has a lifetime of stories to tell. He went to New College School and Magdalen College School, Oxford, before going to London University for a year to read Engineering, but in his own words ‘spent too much time playing rugby’, so started work on the farm, which is now run by his son Michael and grandson Phillip.

“I was a working farmer not a landowner, and my father said to me: “You must do everything a man can do, only better”, he explained. Today the farm comprises 3,000 acres, and produces cereals, oilseed rape, potatoes, and rye grass for hay.

I once sat next to Randolph Churchill at a lunch at Blenheim Palace, but he didn’t talk to me, while Harold McMillan came on a shoot on one occasion, lovely man. We often had royalty on shooting parties,” he added.

He has travelled extensively throughout his life, mostly looking at farming in other countries including China, Pakistan, Kashmir, Nepal, and the United States. One farmer friend, the world’s largest potato grower in Washington State, picked him up from the airport in his twin engine Citation plane and then flew him around the farm in his Bell Jet Ranger helicopter.