Doug Wil­son walks the talk

North Taranaki Midweek - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS­TINE WALSH

Doug Wil­son’s colour­ful past is a book in it­self, but his lat­est story is on a light-hearted note.

At 80 years young Wil­son has held nu­mer­ous ti­tles in his life­time, but his lat­est was en­dear­ingly be­stowed on him by his neigh­bours.

Wil­son is now the unofficial head of ‘The Old Farts Vil­lage.’

The Old Farts Vil­lage was termed by res­i­dents for their group of flats in New Ply­mouth.

‘‘I love this place like it is my own home. It gives me some­thing to do and it stops me from get­ting am­ne­sia,’’ Wil­son said.

The ‘vil­lage’ is among 140 bed­sits and one-bed­room units New Ply­mouth District Coun­cil rents to se­niors. For Wil­son it is more than an af­ford­able roof over his head, it is a home near his fam­ily where he can in­dulge his pas­sion for gar­den­ing.

Wil­son moved to the vil­lage five years back and is piv­otal in help­ing neigh­bours to come out of their shells. He keeps them in fresh ve­g­ies and is a fre­quent prize win­ner in the an­nual Hous­ing for the El­derly gar­den con­test.

‘‘Doug’s def­i­nitely had a huge im­pact on this block of flats, in par­tic­u­lar he has en­cour­aged and in­spired oth­ers to do gar­den­ing and other things,’’ Hous­ing for the El­derly co-or­di­na­tor, Kaye Thorpe said.

The for­mer Lo­cal Hero medal win­ner in the New Zealan­der of the Year awards said he was al­ways com­mu­nity-minded, his­tory shows he goes next level to walk his talk.

Wil­son spear­headed the Mar­fell gar­den pro­ject, walk­ing from the cape to the bluff rais­ing aware­ness for glau­coma and trekking across Aus­tralia to pro­mote another cause are a few of his epic feats. ’’Ive got one big walk to do yet,’’ he said.

For now his feet are firmly on home soil and his on­go­ing mis­sion is to im­prove the lives of se­niors. ‘‘There’s too many of us oldies do­ing noth­ing and we were bought up to do hard work.

Wil­son is brim­ming with ideas and wants to see the coun­cil hire a bus and get all the NPDC el­derly ten­nants on board for a tour of each oth­ers ‘vil­lages’ and a cuppa. ’’They will get what the el­derly are feel­ing and in­spire good­will.’’

The num­ber of el­derly in the district is ris­ing and de­mand for the units is high, with a wait­ing time of up to three years, but the coun­cil is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing af­ford­able homes to those who qual­ify.

CHRIS­TINE WALSH/ STUFF

Doug Wil­son, a man of many di­men­sions.

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