James Turney had only one request when he first went to look around ShireLiving’s Withywood scheme in Shrewsbury – a rainwater measuring station.
James, 85, has been keeping a record of the daily rainfall as long as he can remember, and said he was keen to carry it on in his new home.
Seeing how important it was to him, staff at Withywood pledged to make it happen and had the equipment set up in the communal garden in time for James’s arrival last month.
It means the ritual started in 1920 by his father at the family’s farm in Northamptonshire has been able to carry on.
Growing up watching his father collect and measure the rainfall each day, James, who was the eldest of seven children, recalls how the practice soon became part of his routine too.
He has carried it on after getting married and having two children, taking his equipment and records with him when he relocated to Staffordshire in 1970 and then to Baschurch in 1999.
Meanwhile his father stayed on the farm, keeping his own records into his 70s – but James, who is now a great-grandfather, has no plans to stop any time soon.
He said: “When you have been doing something for so long you just keep doing it. It is part of my routine.
“It gets me out of bed – I try and get up at 7 o’clock every morning to make sure the measurements are taken at around the same time.”
Each morning James makes his way down to the garden to see how much rain has been collected in the previous 24 hours.
He explained: “It catches the water in a container, and I then tip it into a measuring cylinder. When there’s been a lot of rain I have to empty the cylinder about four times.”
Along with measuring the volume of water, there are gauges set up to measure the temperature and humidity in the air. On snowy days, James will also measure the depth of the snow.
He said: “One foot of snow is an inch of rain. On an acre of land, one inch of rain is 100 tonnes of water.”
When the time came to look at retirement housing, James was determined not to have to give up his passion and was delighted when staff at the ShireLiving scheme, part of the Wrekin Housing Group, agreed to help.
While Withywood service manager Sharon Lawrie was used to accommodating residents’ wishes, she said rainwater measuring equipment was certainly a first.
Sharon said: “We could see it was a massive thing for him and it would have been a bit of a deal-breaker, so I said it’s not a problem – just tell me what you need.
“We get all sorts of requests from residents and we always try and accommodate things where we can. It is their home after all.
“We are really pleased to have been able to help James continue doing something that is so important to him.”