“I thought schemes like these were for old people, but they’re not”
Three years ago 61-year-old Bill Rainbow was living in a camper van on a friend’s driveway and was in desperate need of a home of his own. He’d been on the housing waiting list at Cherwell District Council but, as his family all lived in Northamptonshire, he had no local connection so wasn’t eligible for a property in that region.
Grand Union offered Bill a one bedroom flat in Bridgewater House, a scheme for the over 55s in Brackley, which he accepted, grateful to have a roof over his head.
Bill’s flat is one of 29 in the scheme which is situated in a popular part of Brackley, close to the leisure centre. The scheme has a large communal lounge where coffee mornings and games afternoons are held, a kitchen, laundry facilities for residents and a guest bedroom for family and friends. All the flats are connected to a 24 hour emergency control centre for added peace of mind.
“I thought schemes like these were for old people but they’re not. They’re perfect for those like me who want to live independently but have support available for when they need it. I’m disabled, so am happy to have a bathroom that is easy for me to use.”
Bill has previously had hip replacement surgery and suffers from a chronic condition causing back pain and fatigue, but it doesn’t stop him from indulging in his favourite pastime, getting out and about on his motorbike, a Honda VT750 Shadow custom cruiser.
“Some people question how I can be disabled but still ride my motorbike, but it’s so comfortable it’s just like sitting in an armchair.
“When the weather’s good I love nothing more than going out on my bike; it’s the noise it makes and the freedom it gives me. I try to go to three or four motorbike rallies a year which I really enjoy.
“I’ve been into motorbikes since I was about 10 when I used to ride one around a field on a farm. I had a full tractor licence at the age of 16, passed my driving test a week after my seventeenth birthday and got my advanced driving licence six months later. I used to have a public service vehicle (PSV) licence and an HGV licence, as I used to work as a lorry driver, but I had to give those licences up due to my ill health. I think the only thing I can’t drive is a train!”
When Bill’s not out on his motorbike he enjoys spending time with his family who live close by and making model motorbikes that he proudly displays in his home.
“I had very little when I moved in and was surprised how many people jumped to help me with providing furniture. This is my home now and I’m very thankful for it.”