Pumpkin soup queen

Margaret Hardy never feels lonely – there’s always someone to have a cuppa with at Uniting AgeWell Yernga Independent Living Village in Mount Waverley.

“It’s wonderful to be part of this friendly village,” says the 79-year-old, who is secretary of the village association. “Even during the longest of the COVID-19 lockdowns, I never felt alone.”

Margaret moved into her cosy unit in the village nine years ago and says it’s one of the best decisions she’s ever made. “I absolutely love it here!” she says. “I’m surrounded by a group of like-minded people and have made good friends over the years.”

And she enjoys the regular social gatherings – outdoor barbeques on the village green; and board game afternoons, regular exercise classes, and get-togethers sometimes with a guest speaker, in the community centre at the site, subject to COVID-19 restrictions of course!

Margaret helped establish the veggie patch, which over the years has yielded vast quantities of tomatoes, pumpkin and herbs, to mention but a few. She regularly whips up her famous pumpkin soup – she made some for family and friends this week, and often makes it for gatherings in the centre.

Margaret taught science and maths for many years, before working for a medical specialist. She did billings and accounts, and still occasionally helps where needed.

She still drives, considers herself as fit as a fiddle and can’t wait for travel restrictions to lift so she can visit her brother and sister in NSW, where she was born.

Margaret’s passions are reading and chess – and over the years she established chess clubs at every school she taught at in both NSW and Victoria. Some of her students have gone on to play at tournament levels.

She has four children (her eldest son died many years ago) who are in Melbourne and seven grandchildren, all of whom are her pride and joy. Over the years the grandchildren have come for sleepovers, and she has thoroughly enjoyed spoiling them to bits!

Margaret’s only complaint is that no one in the village plays chess! And now that there are a couple of units vacant, she’s sincerely hoping that someone who knows how to play, moves in. And also someone who loves pumpkin soup!

Uniting AgeWell South East Housing Officer Lee Martin says residents like Margaret live independently in the spacious 31-unit complex, with one-and two bedroomed units, each with their own undercover car park and storage locker, and at the same time share the beautiful gardens and enjoy a sense of camaraderie and community with the other residents.

The village, with its low service fees, is a great option for those wanting to downsize and move into a safe, welcoming community. The friendly atmosphere really contributes to a sense of togetherness and wellbeing,” Lee says. “It’s a great way to retire, it’s the best of both worlds.”

There are currently a couple of vacancies in the village. For further details or to arrange a tour, phone Lee on 9845 3139 or visit

Margaret’s Famous Pumpkin Soup (thanks for sharing, Margaret!)

Chop an onion and one stalk of celery, fry in a bit of olive oil, add ground coriander and cumin and stir it in. Add veggie stock, then add chopped up pumpkin and a carrot. Boil until cooked, and blend in blender. Add salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread rolls.