AN OXFORD sheltered housing block is to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

McMaster House, in Latimer Road, Headington, opened its doors on May 22, 1984, and so far nearly 170 people have called one of its 36 flats home.

Sandy Russell, general manager of McMaster House for the past five years, said the block was founded as a Christian establishment with good links to the nearby St Luke’s Hospital.

Mrs Russell said the facility did not provide medical care, but thanks to arrangements with carers and nurses it could look after people into their second century.

The oldest ever resident, Gladys Metcalfe, stayed there until she was 103 and the oldest person currently living in the block is 99.

Mrs Russell said: “We wouldn’t have been able to do that at the beginning.

“Now we can call doctors, help sort out carers, whatever the tenants need. Some of them get carers three or four times a day and 25 years ago that level of care wasn’t available.”

Edna West, 94, moved into McMaster House two years ago.

She said: “It’s such a lovely atmosphere. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have the help I get here because none of my family can take me into their homes.”

Regular activities include coffee mornings, bingo, scrabble, and a book group and the house has residents’ social and gardening committees.

The accommodation, run by St Luke’s Housing Society, has a mixture of bedsits, one bedroom flats and also caters for couples.

Audrey Jacobs, 86, moved in 12 years ago with her husband, who was starting to suffer from memory loss. He died last year.

Mrs Jacobs said: “It is just right here, you never feel alone and there is always a neighbour around or someone to talk to.

“You get the best of both worlds because you can be independent, and you can join in the communal life as well.”

Mrs Jacobs has lived in Headington all her life and said: “We saw the block being built and we said ‘that’s where we will go’. It was a very good decision.”

The anniversary will be marked on Friday with a party, displays of old photographs, and music provided by prep school pupils from the nearby Headington Girls’ School.

Mary Hanna, 84, is McMaster House’s longest-serving resident.

She moved in with her husband John in 1984.

The couple had been living in nearby Headley Way but wanted to move closer to their place of worship, Lime Walk Methodist Church.

Mrs Hanna, who was widowed in 1998, said: “It was just lovely. When we came we knew we had made the right choice and it was a great relief to be here.

“Everyone has just been so caring and everything was done to make us comfortable and happy.”

Mrs Hanna has made dozens of friends during her time at McMaster House.

She said: “When I look at photographs and I think back to all that has happened here, it seems a long time, but sometimes it seems not so long ago I moved in.

“Sadly, so many of the people I have met are now no longer here. The hard part of living somewhere like this is that you do lose people that you come to admire and love.

“But the bonus is new people come and you make new friends all the time.”

She said she was given tremendous support when she was dealing with the death of her husband and was full of praise for staff.

She said: “They were feeling their way as much as we were at the beginning because it was a new thing for them too, and I think it has just got better and better.

“I am very, very happy here.”