Building your own community: the importance of nurturing local initiatives

Steve - Azure

Stephen Craddock, bought his property on St Mary’s Island with Countryside 15 years ago. As an active member of the community, Stephen, 62, is well known for his fundraising efforts for Help for Heroes, a charity close to his heart. 

Having worked as a Royal Engineer through The Troubles in Northern Ireland and later as a soldier in the army up until his retirement in 1990, Stephen worked for over two decades on the front line of public service. 

By October this year, Stephen will have been volunteering with Help for Heroes for 12 years, becoming the charity’s largest single fundraiser by helping to generate almost £500,000 so far. His next goal? To hit the half a million mark. One which he is determined to achieve.  

A victim of mental health trauma himself, Stephen still maintains a strong sense of service even in his private life and voluntary work, “I do what I do because I want to make a difference. When you have seen the things I have seen, I don’t want others to be in a similar situation and have to cope with this feeling by themselves.” 

Stephen purchased a home at Venture (a past Countryside scheme on the island) and has been living there ever since he moved to Chatham. Commenting on what the island offers, “It’s got a great neighbourhood feel. It’s peaceful, scenic and secure. I regularly walk my dog right around the island and enjoy having days out with my family.” Stephen goes on to say, “When we were first viewing properties, we were adamant that we were going to live here, and to this day, it remains a great place to raise a family.” 

Countryside, the developers behind Azure, have been supporting Stephen and his Help for Heroes initiatives. Through its admiration for his work and campaigns, Countryside has supported Stephen for Armed Forces Day and a charity event, Cycle4Heroes. Stephen’s next big campaign is the 2020 Cycle to Recovery ride where he and his wheelchair-bound friend will cycle 2,020 miles, travelling through 20 European countries. 

Chatham in Kent is home to the headquarters of the Royal Engineers and the Royal School of Military Engineering where Stephen devoted a large amount of his life to. Living on St. Mary’s Island was a natural move for Stephen and his family after his retirement so he could maintain his friendships with past colleagues and friends. “It’s a strong community of individuals, both with the Royal Engineers and here on the island specifically. People I know (and have known for years) seem to gravitate back to Chatham,” comments Stephen. 

Countryside take an active approach in nurturing communities by working with locals and their passions to create a welcoming and enjoyable place to live. Azure, which overlooks the marina on St. Mary’s Island is Countryside’s latest scheme whereby residents can enjoy the growing and thriving community on the island with an amazing waterside lifestyle at your fingertips.