Resident Stories & Competitions
04 July 2024

Finding Love at Sunrise

It isn’t every day you hear about finding love later in life but for Sunrise residents, Bruce and Rhonda, meeting within the community opened an opportunity to share their life stories and create a bond based on shared experiences. Now, the newlyweds are happily living their dream life together at the Sunrise community.

At the start of March, Bruce and Rhonda married in a beautiful and intimate ceremony at Little Beach on the picturesque coast of Port Stephens in NSW. “We both believe in sliding doors and that fate had brought us together. Marriage is a commitment that we both wanted, and we feel very lucky that we were able to celebrate the day with our Sunrise family,” said Bruce and Rhonda.

Bruce and Rhonda candidly shared their journey about moving to the Sunrise community, after both having lost their life partners under tragic circumstances.

Bruce's Story

“In 2019, life was going along splendidly. I had been married for 43 years to my childhood sweetheart who I had known since I was 4 years old, life was good. In June 2019, my wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 Bone Cancer and our lives changed forever.  Following a short and harrowing period, the love of my life passed away in August 2019 and my world fell apart,” Bruce shared. The following year, Bruce saw the Sunrise development underway and decided to learn more about the community. After visiting the site Bruce took a leap of faith and put his home on the market. “I was living amongst friends, but I felt totally isolated.  I was living in my own home, and I hated being there, I was so lonely,” said Bruce. Dreaming of a better future, Bruce paid the deposit on his new home at Sunrise. Unfortunately, Bruce was unable to sell his home and decided not to move forward with his move to Sunrise. “Sadly, the housing market was soft, and my property failed to sell, so I had to let the Sunrise home go. I was heartbroken,” said Bruce.

In a great turn of events the following year, Bruce’s real estate agent reached out to see if he was still interested in selling his home. “I was wary selling as I did not want the disappointment if it failed to sell again but I was still very attracted to Sunrise. I contacted the sales team to see if there were any homes available and to my great delight, there was! I moved into the community in April 2021 and have enjoyed my time living at Sunrise and being part of the community spirit,” said Bruce.

Rhonda's Story

“My husband and I were living in Orange, NSW and had always dreamed of a sea-change! In 2010 we decided to move to a suburb in Port Stephens called Lemon Tree Passage to fulfill our dreams. Living there gave us the opportunity to expand our horizons in so many community interests and activities. We joined walking and dancing groups and became embedded in a wonderful community,” said Rhonda. In 2018, Rhonda’s husband developed several health issues with one requiring a quadruple bypass. “Following the procedure, it became clear that maintaining our beautiful and extensive gardens was problematic and we needed to plan for a more suitable lifestyle,” said Rhonda.

After visiting friends who had recently moved to Sunrise, Rhonda and her husband fell in love with the community and found the lifestyle to be a better fit than moving to a retirement village. “We moved into the community in December 2021 to start our new beginning. Within 6 weeks of moving into our dream home, my husband, while potting plants, developed Legionella Longbeachea and devastatingly, he passed away from complications of the condition in February 2022,” shared Rhonda.

The Next Chapter

“Living at Sunrise proved to be not only a great place to live, but a caring community as well. It is always a major point of general discussion that when someone needs a hand, the community provides support in any capacity,” said Bruce and Rhonda. With that said, the Sunrise Men’s Shed were asked to assist Rhonda in helping sort out her garage and garden shed. Cue Bruce!

“Sorting out the tools and equipment was a simple task where we systematically worked through what was in front of us.  As part of this process, we began to share our stories and realised that there was comfort and support for both of us as we had shared similar experiences and in that we understood what each other were going through,” said Bruce.

“Many hours were spent talking and crying resulting in us getting an in depth understanding of each other.  This understanding resulted in a strong common bond that became a friendship and later, a relationship,” shared the couple.

Bruce and Rhonda are both active members of the Sunrise community taking part in the music group, crafts, the Men’s Shed, exercise and social groups. “The support of our relationship by the Sunrise community was astounding. Our relationship was welcomed, and it made us so proud to be part of the Sunrise family. We have now settled into the dream lifestyle that we both jointly had dreamed of,” concluded Bruce and Rhonda.

Enjoy a Resort-Style Oasis at Sunrise!

Located in the picturesque region of Port Stephens between the ocean and the countryside is the Sunrise community. Sunrise offers an exceptional over 55s lifestyle for those looking to start their next chapter. Designed to exceed expectations, enjoy a range of state-of-the-art amenities including a clubhouse, two swimming pools, spa & wellness centre, bowling green, outdoor BBQ areas and much more.


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