Dr Les Simpson, 71, has taken on the role of teaching ceramics to fellow residents at the multi award-winning retirement village in the fully equipped art studio that was unveiled earlier this summer along with a new library and shop.
His first class of students are progressing steadily through a beginner’s course and have already created a range of pots.
Having acquired a passion for pottery after retiring from a successful career in science he was determined to continue his ceramics career when he moved into his new home in Middleton Hall’s Waterside development.
“Before I even moved here I asked about setting up pottery classes and I have worked closely with Middleton Hall’s management team to create and finalise the studio,” Dr Simpson said.
“I am very pleased indeed with the studio and when a friend and fellow potter saw the facilities that we now have she said that many potters would be exceedingly envious of them.”
Dr Simpson’s interest in ceramics was sparked by the tiles he saw on a trip to Bruges shortly before he retired.
He added: “It struck me as an ideal hobby to occupy me in retirement and when I left work I enrolled on a pottery course at Cleveland College of Art and Design where I was taught by Claude Frere-Smith.
“Ever since I have been involved in pottery and I set up and helped to run events for the Roseberry Ceramics group for many years. Since the art studio opened I have been in every day and I’m now spending about eight hours a day planning and teaching the pottery classes at Middleton Hall.
“I am really enjoying my second career, in spite of the fact that I don’t get paid! It gives me great happiness to see people creating things and helping to build their confidence as they learn.
“My pottery and then the art studio project have also both been good distractions from the sadness of my wife’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the concentration and mindfulness used in creating pottery is very therapeutic.”
Audra Hunt, Living Well Manager at MHRV, commented: “The drive and enthusiasm shown by Dr Simpson in planning and developing our art studio, and now creating and teaching the pottery classes, has been wonderful and we have been delighted to work with him in realising his vision. He has also donated his kiln to the project which is incredibly generous.
“The art studio and pottery classes are amongst a long list of activities we offer to residents. Our philosophy is all about ‘Living Well’ and we pride ourselves on providing an environment where residents can live active and fulfilling lives including health and fitness, recreation, spiritual, holistic and educational opportunities.”