CASE STUDY – GARY SHERWOOD
Ballet aficionados living at Beechcroft’s The Sidings in Wheatley will be delighted to discover that one of the new homeowners, Gary Sherwood, was a Principal Dancer with the Royal Ballet. Indeed, one of Mr Sherwood’s new neighbours recognised him almost immediately, having seen a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in the late 1960s when Mr Sherwood danced the role of ‘Mercutio’ in a cast that included Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev
There will certainly be plenty to talk about when the neighbours get together – Mr Sherwood has enjoyed a long, illustrious and fascinating career. In his teens, Mr Sherwood was a scholarship student at the Royal Ballet School, later performing all over the world with the Royal Ballet. During the 1970s, he worked as a Rehearsal Director and dancer with the Rambert Dance Company, one of the world’s leading contemporary dance companies and a significant influence on the development of dance in this country. By the end of the decade, he had become the founder/director of the Rambert Academy, training a new generation of talented dancers and, in later years, continued to share his knowledge and experience, working as a dance coach/trainer for professional dancers in the UK and across Europe.
Mr Sherwood decided to downsize from his three-storey cottage in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds following the death of his wife, Diana Vere. Diana Vere, also a Principal Dancer at the Royal Ballet, performed with Nureyev in ‘The Ropes of Time’ at The Royal Opera House in 1970. Her on-stage partnership with Mr Sherwood led to an off-stage relationship and eventually marriage. Although marriage between dance partners is unusual in the ballet world, the couple were married for more than 45 years and had two children but always managed to separate their work and home lives.
Now, Mr Sherwood is anticipating a peaceful retirement at The Sidings in Wheatley – once he manages to get his belongings out of the packing cases.
“When I decided to go ahead and sell my house, I started to look at possible places to live and decided that I needed an apartment,” says Mr Sherwood. “I looked at several retirement developments across Oxfordshire and got an idea of the sort of place I could live in. I saw an advertisement for Beechcroft in the newspaper and went to view the new homes at The Sidings in Wheatley. I liked the style; the living space was roomy, the ceilings were high and the fixtures and fittings were of a high quality. I came back to visit, time and again.
“I liked the idea of living in Wheatley. Having spent years living in London, I wanted to be near a city again and, living here, I have the best of both worlds – a home in a village with everything on hand but close to Oxford. I reserved an apartment but didn’t realise it would take months to sell my house – with the intervention of lockdown I lost my buyers. The Beechcroft team were really good – they held my deposit and, when we came out of lockdown, my former home sold really quickly to a couple who were moving from London to the country.
“At the time I chose my new home, quite a few of the properties were already sold. I selected a top floor apartment because I liked the idea of being high up, with a nice view and lots of light. Although there is a lift, I am still quite fit and tend to use the stairs. I am happy with my new home – it’s slightly quirky and because it’s set in the ‘eaves’ I feel as if I’m in an apartment in Paris. I can see the advantages of living here and I know how I want the apartment to look once I sort out my books, my paintings and my furniture.
“I will enjoy being part of a community; it was a bit lonely where I lived before because the village was mainly populated with young families. I have already met all my new neighbours at The Sidings – during the warm weather we had a socially-distanced get-together in the gardens. Everyone is very friendly – there are more widows than widowers and some lovely couples.
“I’m looking forward to having a new social life. I like walking and I used to play tennis but now enjoy table tennis and I’ve gone back to painting watercolours. My daughter, who lives with her family in Oxford, has done some research and there’s a table tennis group and some art groups locally. Before lockdown, I did try a couple of ‘Silver Swan’ ballet classes and enjoyed them but I don’t dance anymore. I wouldn’t mind teaching occasionally though. It’s wonderful to see the young dancers coming through and I have always enjoyed being ‘on the other side of the curtain’ helping with rehearsals.”
For anyone interested in joining Mr Sherwood and the community at The Sidings, please visit the Beechcroft website on beechcroft.co.uk