For years, people have held the opinion that older people are wiser and research is showing that this evidence is true. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, seniors were proven to have a heightened “ability to use intelligence for the social good.”
This is not to say that young people don’t have this ability, but it is more common in the elderly. It makes sense that the more time you have on this earth, the more time you have to become aware of not only yourself but your surroundings. The couple in the following story perfectly depicts this idea…
After getting married in January 2018, an elderly couple from Northern Ireland decided to postpone their honeymoon until the weather was a bit nicer. But as the months went by, Jim, 84, and Maureen, who is in her 60’s, had a change of heart.
Abercorn Terrace, Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Jim thought, “Instead of going somewhere nice, why not make our own place nice.” Jim moved in with Maureen when they got married, and Maureen had already lived in the property for over thirty years. The property called Abercorn Terrace in Londonderry has a lot of history behind it…
Derry composer/musician Phil Coulter was born there and directly across the street, Derry punk rock legends, The Undertones, were said to have made their first recording ever. Jim was thrilled to be moving in with the love of his life, and into a home that she truly adored.
Combining Their Passions
After moving in together, the couple’s combined passion for flowers and gardening inspired them to clean and then decorate the steps in front of their home. Their project eventually took on a new meaning when they won an award for their flower display at an Age Concern flower show. The entire neighborhood took notice…
Calling Off Their Honeymoon To Do Something Better
The newlyweds had been planning to visit Florence in Italy, but soon changed their minds. “Instead of going someplace to look at something beautiful, and then come home and still not have any flowers here, we forgot about the honeymoon and put the money back into the neighborhood,” Maureen Nelis told Derry Now. Jim agreed with his wife that this was the right decision.
Creating Their Own Oasis At Home
The generous couple decided to gift flower boxes to all of their neighbors and transform the neighborhood. Maureen and Jim started with the steps connecting Abercorn Terrace, Abercorn Place, and Harding Street and then they gifted flower boxes to everyone living on Harding Street. It began with those steps and progressed from there…
Dramatically Changing The Appearance Of The Area
Maureen said, “People were very appreciative of the steps and we got thank you cards through the door, then some of the neighbors started asking could we do something else.” That’s when they decided that they’d create their own “holiday” right outside their door.
A Beautiful Home Is More Important
“You go [away on Holiday] and you look around to see what you haven’t seen before and it’s beautiful- but you leave it all behind you, and you come back, and you have nothing,” Jim explained. Since installing the flower pots and plants throughout the property…
Changing The Neighborhood For The Better
The community has come together. Watering and maintaining the flowers has brought people out on the street and brought back a sense of community spirit. Pride has been instilled in the area and people who would’ve walked the longer route along the Abercorn Road to get to Harding Street now take a short-cut up the steps to see the flowers.
Can They Be Maintained?
“Elderly people can stop on the landing and have a breather and a look around and then walk on up the steps,” said Jim. The beauty of the neighborhood thanks to the couple’s efforts is undeniable, but can it be maintained?
The couple believes that most of the hard work has already been done with the introduction of planters and boxes. “Anyway it wouldn’t cost much to look after them,” they said. As far as upkeep, it’s a matter of collecting seeds, bulbs, and other items as time goes by. In fact, Jim and Maureen are hopeful that their creation will only flourish with time.
The Start Of Something New
They believe that terraced housing throughout the city has the potential to be showcased in such a way, as their architecture lends itself to window decorations in the form of flower boxes. Terraced housing is particularly popular in the UK. “If it catches your eye, if you stand at the top of the steps and look down, it’s lovely, you can see all the flowers,” Jim said. Maureen also commented…
The Outside Is Just As Important As The Inside
“Terraced housing is charming. And I think the outside of homes are as important as the inside, when you come home you should have a nice feeling.” Being that there are people who live in the neighborhood from all different walks of life, Maureen believes everyone can enjoy a nice place to come home to.
“There are people around here in different trades, others who are retired or looking after children. They’re all working people and I think they should have a nice place to look at as they come and go, and a pleasant atmosphere whenever they return to their street,” Maureen added. One of her neighbors, Noeleen English, is a member of the community since 1963, and she agrees…
Gratitude From Lifelong Residents
Noeleen knows the neighborhood better than most, and she, along with other residents have expressed their gratitude to Maureen and Jim. “I’m delighted, it is absolutely stunning. I have people visiting my home who look around in amazement, it is literally the wow factor. It encourages the residents to keep their area nice and to take pride in how it looks,” Noeleen said.
Neighbors Reacting To Their Act Of Kindness
In fact, neighbors have even been showing other visitors the work that the couple has done. The neighbors said the newlywed’s selfless act of kindness was “amazing.” The kindness, in fact, has proven to be contagious…
“[Neighbors] are helping each other maintain the plants, they’re watering for each other, you know, so they have to speak to each other,” Maureen said. “I’ve met new people through this, they’ve come up the steps and they’ve introduced themselves, so we’ve been more than happy.”
Bringing People Together
Their story quickly spread on social media as well, attracting tons of people to their home. The story has brought locals and tourists alike, to the Abercorn steps. The power of Facebook also reunited Jim with a friend he hadn’t seen in more than 40 years. Once the old friend saw Jim’s name mentioned online, he immediately went to visit Jim at home. “He said a few things and it suddenly all clicked- we had a fantastic chat.”
Praise From The Mayor
The Mayor, John Boyle even commended the couple. He said: “When I heard about Jim and Maureen Nelis’s thoughtful gesture I really wanted to meet them for myself to thank them personally for their generosity and community spirit.” Boyle added…
Moved By Their Personal Sacrifice
“I’m really very moved by the personal sacrifice they have made to benefit their neighbors and their community- it’s an example to us all…I hope their sense of neighborliness spreads beyond their street and inspires other people to join together and make the changes they need to improve their community.” Said Boyle.