Kate Powell, Alton’s Anna Chaplain, has loved getting to know the older community of the town. She especially enjoys their colourful stories and attitudes to life. Growing Old Gracefully shares the profiles of some of these amazing people and why they chose Alton to live out their final chapter of life. Here she talks to Gerald Peters.

1) How old are you and how long have you lived in Alton?

I was born in Bentley in 1938, which makes me 85 years old. As a teenager my family moved to Four Marks, and I met my wife Heather when I was 17. We married at 21 and moved into Heather’s parents’ house in 1960. They needed to downsize so Heather and I took on their house, while they moved to a nearby flat, and I have lived in that house ever since!

2) What made you choose Alton?

Heather and I both grew up in villages outside Alton but we chose to live in Alton purely because of the offer we were given to live in her parents’ house.

We were very lucky to be able to take on the house as all my jobs were in or around Alton, so it was convenient and a lovely place to bring up our three children.

3) What do you like most about Alton?

Alton has changed a lot over the years and I can’t believe all the building work going on today. I miss the breweries, where I used to work, and the old way of life but I do understand things have to change. The one thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the people and how friendly they are. People always have time for a chat in the street and I have plenty of friends who phone me regularly to make sure I am ok.

4) Tell me a little bit about a favourite time in your life?

I was 11 and a Bentley Church choir boy. Our house was two miles from church, so my Sunday was walk to church for the 8am communion service, then walk home for breakfast. Then back to church for the 10.30am service, and walk home for Sunday lunch. I went back to church with my sister for Sunday school, back home for tea, then back to church for the evening service before coming home for bed!

5) What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I have been unwell for a little while and my surgeon suggested that the best thing I can do now is to live each day as it comes and look after myself. So I have taken his advice and do what I can each day. Some days I feel well and manage to do a bit of gardening or go along to watch one of Alton FC’s matches, but other days I feel exhausted so just rest. Heather died nearly four years ago but my children look out for me and spending time with them is the most special thing to me now. My hope is to have more good days than bad so I can enjoy my time with them and do the things I enjoy.

It is with great sadness that Gerald passed away on December 17, 2023, soon after giving this interview.

For more information on the Anna Chaplaincy, call Kate Powell on 07539 026546.