Case Study - Escape to the country through Homesitters Ltd
Posted on 6 July, 2016
Sue and Gordon Heels, a retired couple in their mid-sixties from Dunstable in Bedfordshire, first read about Homesitters Ltd, the leading national home and pet sitting service, in The Lady magazine.
At that time, Gordon was preparing to retire from his job as an engineering technician for a communications company and Sue was still working at the local authority, dealing with troubled teenagers.
During her career Sue did lots of training and has many qualifications. She was keen to put her skills to use in retirement too. Having led such busy lives, they were both apprehensive about adjusting to a quiet retirement.
Becoming homesitters seemed to be the perfect option them – offering flexible employment with responsibility and a sense of purpose.
They contacted the company in December 2010 when Gordon retired and following an interview, they were taken on.
The couple don’t own any pets so one of the biggest attractions of the job is looking after other people’s animals and in particular, dogs. They love dog walking as it gives them a chance to get out into the countryside and keep fit, whatever the weather.
Home and pet sitting provides a complete change of scene and a break from their normal routine. Living on a main road, they enjoy staying in homes in the countryside, in particular at one of their regular clients’ home which is surrounded by woodland and where there are goats, chickens, guinea fowl and a cockerelto look after.
Here, they take daily walks through the beautiful woodland, which is thick with bluebells in spring, they also sit and listen to the birds’ song and spend time star gazing at night as there’s no street lighting. They say it is a real contrast to their normal life.
Sue and Gordon have two daughters and three young grandsons – one living in Bedfordshire and the other lives in Middlesex. If they’re on assignment nearby they often meet up with them in a local restaurant and spend time together.
Another unexpected benefit for the Heels is spending more quality time together.
Sue explained, “One of the things we love about home and pet sitting is that we do it together. At home we tend to do our own thing, but on assignments we work as a team and spend quality time taking the dogs for walks.
“We go to church on Sundays and when we are home and pet sitting on weekends we find a local church to attend. We’ve made new friends at churches across the country. Recently, we went to a small local church and were invited to stay for their community dinner which we thoroughly enjoyed.”
The couple are also lucky to have a regular client with an indoor swimming pool they can use every day when they stay there.
They can also indulge their hobbies. Gordon spends lots of time outside in the countryside while Sue likes to read. The couple also watch films in the evening as most of the homes have Sky television, which they don’t have at home.
Many of the homes are beautifully decorated, including one grand Victorian house which has been lovingly restored to its former glory.
Sue said, “It was such a pleasure to sleep in a bedroom with a beautiful antique crystal chandelier! We don’t have much art in our own home but we’ve stayed in homes with beautiful paintings and sculptures. We have also met some really interesting and successful people, many of whom have become friends.”