AN ELDERLY couple who vowed to live in the Upper Dales until their dying day have unveiled plans to open a residential home in Hawes after being inspired by a similar complex in a neighbouring village.
Graham and Mary Watts, aged 90 and 77, lived in Gaudy Farm above Gayle and Hawes from 1970 to 1999 and despite then moving to Askrigg they hoped to one day return.
Mrs Watts said: “This has become like another baby – it is quite an undertaking but we wanted to provide something for the community in Hawes.”
Mrs Watts said: “We had already applied for residential affordable housing and at first we want to build ourselves a house.
“But we discovered there was an opportunity to build an amenity for Hawes and that appealed to us very much.
“We have considered a variety of schemes but in the end we have been shown that there is a real need in Hawes for an Extra Care Home, along the lines of Sycamore Hall in Bainbridge, and where there can be additional facilities beyond a normal old people's home.”
Mrs Watts said that there are already 40 people on a waiting list for the home, which is still in the appraisal stage with Yorkshire Dales National Park Planning Authority for preliminary advice.
She added: “The idea of an amenity like this only recently began to take shape as it became evident that the field we own above Kirkbride Way could be a generously proportioned site for an Extra Care Home to accommodate 40 to 45 oldies like ourselves.
“We have from our architect and planning expert a detailed plan of the possible development which would be in a central position for all that Hawes offers in the way of services, accessible by car and on foot.
“We now have a beautiful block model of the kind of place we - and many others - envisage.
“It has been prepared for consultation purposes and we are interested in people's views and are happy for anyone to view it at our home in Askrigg.
Mrs Watts added that the scheme is not a money-making venture.
“We are too old to be speculating on making millions – we just want to provide an amenity to the community.
“As far as operators are concerned we will be happy to engage with any responsible not-for-profit charitable organisation or private operator.”
Anyone wanting to view the plans can contact Mr and Mrs Watts on 01969-650641.