Big bubble brings home the bacon

Eddie Pinkerton, Claire Carroll and Barry Pinkerton. Photo: John Borren.

Residents at the Mount Maunganui RSA Welfare Trust Village are full of appreciation for their lockdown angels.

“They did grocery runs, mowed lawns, spent time with residents and looked after us,” says Sue Clarkson, who lives at the village.

She is talking about Claire Carroll who is also the duty manager at the Mt Maunganui RSA bar, Barry Pinkerton the caretaker, and Barry’s father Eddie Pinkerton who lives in one of the units.

“We just wanted to keep them safe, that was all,” says Claire.

During lockdown, the village of nearly 70 residents became a giant bubble. Early on, Claire asked if anyone would like help with groceries. Smaller trips turned into longer ones and one day she spent nearly four hours at the nearby New World supermarket shopping.

“That was at the beginning, but I did it a few times. I just wanted to keep them out of the supermarket.”

She walked around aisles with lists and individually labelled bags with cash and cards ready, at one time shopping for up to 15 people.

“Sometimes someone got broccoli they didn’t order, but that’s ok. New World were really good to me and made it easy.”

Eddie, age 79, was also pitching in.

“He helps me out with bits and pieces,” says Barry.

“If the tenants need something and I can’t drive them somewhere, then Dad takes them.”

When Eddie retired two years ago from the caretaking job, after 17 years, Barry applied for it. Living on site means being able to keep on top of any maintenance jobs. The village has 44 units in the main village, plus nine above the medical centre and five across the road.

“During lockdown I was sanitising all the bins and checking on each of the residents, making sure they're all right,” says Barry. “Claire was brilliant doing groceries, everyone appreciated it to the moon and back.

“My dad always went the extra mile for everybody when he was caretaker and so we do the same.”

During lockdown Claire’s father was in a Tauranga retirement village which was closed off to the outside world, so family couldn’t visit.

“He’s 90 and for four weeks he saw no one,” says Claire.

Claire also shopped for him, but was unable to go into the village, instead talking with him by phone.

“They are compromised at that age, so you sort of understand it. Even though it was tough, it was the best thing.”

Back at the Mount RSA Village, she and Barry made a habit of knocking on doors every couple of days.

“I was sort of aware that there were two or three that were really frightened,” says Claire.

“It just gave them someone to talk to, so they didn’t feel so isolated.”

Claire even went walking with one lady, each taking one end of a two-metre ribbon to ensure they kept safely apart.

“If we walked without it, we’d end up next to each other because we talked so much. The residents here are lovely people.”

Barry agrees, loving his job.

“They’re all really neat people. There’s always something to do, never a dull moment. I do enjoy it, get up early in the morning and put the flag up and take it down at night.”


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