Richard Vaughan and his partner Karen Coleman seem determined to make their own magnificent version of a seniors’ movie.
The pair will soon leave Cambridge for good, heading for parts unknown. Now in the final stages of packing up their Leamington home, they will spend a month or so in a country cottage while awaiting news on their future. Be it ‘Plan A’ or ‘Plan B’, they’ll be off within months, fuelled by a desire to be closer to family abroad and, according to Richard, to grasp any opportunity to “grow old disgracefully”.
His two sons and only grandchild – and Karen’s three stepsons, six step-grandies and one step-great-grandie – are all in and around the UK.
‘Plan A’ would see them settle near coastal Wales, perhaps even in time for Richard’s eldest son’s December wedding, while ‘Plan B’ would see them head for the coast in New Zealand, possibly Thames or New Plymouth. Pivotal to the decision is news around Te Puke-born Karen’s settlement visa for the UK. It’s something they will need if settling abroad is to eventuate, and something they hope to hear on within the next month or so.
“So, while it’s all quite exciting, the ‘not-knowing’ is a little difficult,” Karen said.
“But either way, we’ll be happy. It’s time for a change, and we’re ready for either one of those plans to materialise,” said Richard.
Both of these delightful people will leave sizeable gaps in a community that has enriched their lives for the best part of 12 years.
UK-born Richard has been here since 2006. The couple met soon afterwards via what he calls a “golfing for idiots” day at the Cambridge Golf Club, followed by lengthy walks with their respective dogs. They soon became a team, with both taking on community roles suiting their interests. Richard has been involved with the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, the Young Enterprise scheme through both high schools, Age Concern, the Safer Communities Trust, Cambridge Community House and has driven the St John Health Shuttle. He joined the Citizens Advice Bureau in 2006, rising to become chairman of the Cambridge branch and becoming vice-president of CAB New Zealand for two years. He was also in the news for his extensive model railway set-up.
Karen has been involved with Riding for the Disabled, has done her fair-share of fundraising, has modelled with the 60’s Up group, and been involved with Lyceum and Bookarama. Now, she’s feverishly trying to round off her tenure here by trying to find someone to replace her as chairperson of the local Arthritis Support Group.
Both Karen and Richard talk of how much they have gained from the community, and from the various groups they have worked with through the past decade.
Thoughts of moving from Cambridge became more focused during a visit to the UK in April, where they celebrated Richard’s grandson’s third birthday and played host to a flotilla of Karen’s step-relatives who stopped by their Ludlow rental – “more like a B & B”, laughed Richard.
“Two reasons were behind those thoughts. One was that it was so nice having family around, and the other was the realisation that we weren’t going to be able to hack the 17-hour flights much longer,” he said.
Now, with the decision to leave Cambridge made, the destination remains unclear. But like those in the seniors’ movies they both enjoy, they are willing to let life take them in whatever direction wins out.
Once there, they plan to devote a few months to themselves before offering their impressive array of skills to another lucky community.