For Summerset down the Lane resident Neil Timmo, the Summerset life is about having the freedom to continue his highly active lifestyle – and the space to enjoy the quieter moments on his own terms.

Activity means sticking to a strict gym regimen – which Neil began when he was first diagnosed with dementia. He credits his workouts as focusing him, allowing him to take control of his symptoms and live life to the fullest. “For the first couple of years I had it pretty tough, not knowing what it was,” Neil says. “You get in that depression thing. Then I was finally diagnosed, and because I couldn’t occupy my mind, I went to a gym. It gave me back my whole life – chased the depression away. It was really great. I really shone.”

Neil can be found at Summerset down the Lane’s gym every day, five days a week, where he spends one to two hours working out. “I do ten minutes on the bike – full load most of the time. Then I do the rower on maximum load, and I do 2km. Then I do all my weights – dumbbells, things like that. I can bench press 100kg no sweat!”

Outside Summerset, the Raetehi-born former timber worker leads an active life. If he’s not out in his boat fishing with his son-in-law, who lives in Morrinsville, they can be found in the skies in their glider. “Sometimes we fly down to Raglan and have a cup of coffee, just for the hell of it,” Neil laughs.

Those quieter moments are spent on one of his favourite hobbies: making model boats from scratch, something he’s done for around about 8-10 years. “I don’t know why I picked modelling boats,” Neil says. “It just happened. I made a few self-made ones, they weren’t the greatest – but I gradually improved, and found sources of getting timber, bits and pieces, sort of thing.”

Neil at work on one of his beautiful model boats

The ability to set up his workshop was one of the things that made Summerset down the Lane an attractive proposition. “I just liked it here – the atmosphere,” Neil explains. “I can do what I want to do, whereas in other places I couldn’t. I could bring most of my stuff.”

The communal vegetable garden is also a particular highlight: “We’ve got beans, silver beet and spinach… we’ve got carrots just coming through the ground in the front there. And then we’ve got a Chinese selection for our stir fries that we make.”

But since moving in, Neil has discovered that one of the best aspects of the Summerset life is the people. “The community is terrific,” he says. “There’s a few of us here don’t sleep that well, so after tea we go up and have a game of snooker. We’re all getting better! We’d never played that before. A bit of a laugh.”

Just a few of Neil's creations