The story so far
Before they met each other, Hilary and Hosten both had a vision to develop some sort of place where people could come for support. For Hilary, this was a therapy centre with possibly a cafe attached and for Hosten, his vision was to return to Grenada to build a chapel in the area where he grew up, which is near the only golf course in Grenada. When they got married and talked about future dreams these two visions merged and developed. With Hosten working in the church and Hilary in the NHS, they became more aware of the value of retreats and the growing need to address burnout, stress and other psychological difficulties, particularly for those in the caring professions. Over the past twenty years, they have visited Grenada as a family and have recognised that the whole island provides an antidote to stress and burnout with its relaxed, laid back ambience and beautiful tropical beaches.
However to turn the vision into reality they needed to be sure that it was what they were meant to do and for them, that was about having confirmation that this vision was from God. So in 2010, they went to a retreat weekend for those considering leading retreats to have some training and also to test this idea out. They attended with the intention of being willing to let these ideas go if it wasn’t right so that they could move on to something else. There were various things that happened over that weekend which confirmed that they shouldn’t let go of the vision and so they left the weekend no clearer as to how it would happen but that it would happen.
Over the years they have kept a journal of ideas, significant conversations, snippets from relevant books and various other key events that moved the vision along. A journal entry in 2011 reads “Esther de Waal’s book Lost in Wonder describes how the layout of a monastery reflects their spirituality with the open space at the centre of the building to represent an open heart to God. This made me think about the significance of the design of the house and that it would be good to have an open courtyard at the centre of the retreat with rooms coming off it."
In 2015 Hosten needed to return to the Caribbean to sort out affairs following his mother’s death and by then they had been regularly looking on the internet at possible houses so he visited a number of properties at the same time. He also visited the YWAM base to meet the team there. (This was the charity that Hilary had worked for in the UK and she was interested in the work they were doing in Grenada).
In March 2016 they got an email from one of the YWAM leaders in Grenada. He described a property that was for sale and he thought it might be suitable for their vision, though the house needed a lot of work doing to it. As they opened the photos attached, there was a photo of a courtyard which is not a normal style for Grenadian houses and in seeing that photo Hilary was reminded of her journal entry about an open courtyard and knew that it was the right house. Hosten had a similar reaction when he found out that there were plans for a golf course to be built nearby which connected with his original vision of a chapel near the golf course! The number of rooms matched the plans that they had been developing and it was also a short walk from the sea in the type of location they were hoping for. However, the owners wanted to sell the house to Christians who had a particular vision for the house. So it was not just a case of making an offer but a process of the owners discerning whether the vision of the retreat house fitted with what the owners wanted for the house.
To cut a long story short, Hosten and Hilary visited the house a few months later and shared their vision with the owners. The owners felt that they were the right people to buy the house which again was such a confirmation of the vision they had been carrying. They also discovered that along with the house there was a ready-made network of people associated with the house and the work that the owners had been doing. They were a lovely American couple who had worked in Grenada for about thirty years and wanted to return to the States leaving the church and school which they had built and developed and they gave these properties as a gift in kind along with the purchase of the house.
Hosten and Hilary returned to the UK in an emotional daze. The implications of this vision becoming reality were beginning to dawn on them. It would mean selling their family home, letting go of “Western suburban life” and ultimately it would mean living on the other side of the world to their children and at this point, they weren’t sure if they could do that. However, the children were in agreement that they should go for it and they both knew that they were in a flow that now had a life of its own and that it was meant to be. They needed some encouragement that buying the house was right and this came in two amazing next steps. Firstly they needed to raise the 10% house deposit when they didn’t have any significant savings available. A close family member then told them that they would give them the proceeds from a long term investment bond that just happened to be maturing that month and amazingly the figure was slightly more than the required deposit money. They then, with a lot of mixed emotions, placed their house on the market. As they lived next to a railway line and the house previously had taken about a year to sell last time, the estate agent warned them that it would take time particularly at the price they had decided to try for. So it was a surprise to all of them when they got the offer of the asking price a few days after it went on the market and by the end of 2016, they had sold the house and moved into rented accommodation nearby.
The following year they took their children out to see the house and they joined in the planning and the dreaming. (The photo below is a family selfie from that trip). The plan was for Hilary to take early retirement in December 2021 and Hosten and Hilary would then move to Grenada in early 2022. Unexpectedly, Hosten died of a heart attack in the Summer of 2021 and so Hilary decided to still retire but is currently taking a year out to process this shock and to prepare to move to Grenada without Hosten. Their children, Hayley and Joshua, agreed to become directors and to continue to support the vision, in memory of their father. So the journal continues to be written and the plans continue to develop and now, as you read this, you are sharing the journey with them as they continue to see their vision becoming a reality for Hummingbird Retreat.