“This is where I live,” Chris tells us from the front of his house, where he has been living for two years. “I was in the right place at the right time,” he says, explaining how he came to live in his Compassion Housing unit in Foxton.

It was a good surprise, despite never expecting to be living there.

“I came here because the owners of the house I rented
decided to sell it and they gave me three months
notice. I was there for 11 years, and suddenly they
didn’t want a tenant anymore.”

Finding himself looking for a home after such a long time was stressful, so when he heard that a Compassion Housing opportunity was opening up he jumped on it. Chris feels very fortunate that he was offered his Compassion home, he knows how difficult it is to find affordable housing that’s of a good standard.

Chris recalls how difficult it was to find a new place to live, and before that, he spent 12 months living in his car. “It wasn’t that bad,” he says.

Nevertheless, it was a tough blow for this former racing jockey, who throughout his life has experienced both triumphs and defeats. One of them, the early death of his wife. “She died of breast cancer when she was only 29. We were married for 8 years. Unfortunately at the time they didn’t have the treatments they’ve got now.”

In a prominent spot in his tidy and neat home, he showcases photos of her, fondly reminiscing about the past. Beside them, he proudly shows pictures of Catherine and Chelsea, his daughters. “My eldest one lives in England (Catherine), she came to see me over Christmas. The other one is Chelsea, whom I had to raise by myself. She is a journalist now and lives in Wellington.”

Memories of his life fill Chris’ narrative. Since he was a child, he’s been interested in horses, and he passionately recounts leaving his home in Upper Hutt at 15 years old. “I always wanted to be a jockey, so I went to Christchurch and lived there for six years and did my apprenticeship. After that I worked on several farms.”

Then, life brought him back to his passion, despite having a few falls. “I had some accidents riding horses, a broken collarbone, a couple of falls, but nothing really major.” His love for these animals led him not only to compete but also to breed them, sometimes rescuing horses from people who no longer wanted them.

Currently, he enjoys taking time to visit a horse he looks after a few blocks from his home. “I don’t have a lot of people to be worried about. Also, everyone is busy and got their own stuff going on.”

While dividing his time between working in his veggie garden, earning extra money by mowing lawns, or chatting with his neighbour, Chris is thankful for
finding this place.

“The house is good, warm and it’s got everything I need. I couldn’t have it better.”