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Stroke no setback for yogi

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

It will take more than a stroke to hold back Andy Bearpark.

The former chief of staff to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is forging ahead with plans to open a yoga retreat at his Featherston home, after it was gutted by fire earlier this year.

He now plans to rebuild his former house into a “luxury” spa, which will double as an art gallery.

Mr Bearpark was discharged from Wellington Hospital a week ago following the stroke, which he says has been a “slightly irritating” set back.

“But I’m up and running again now and so everything should be okay.

“It’s just been a problem few weeks where I’ve been lying in bed contemplating the world.”

For the past year he has been living in the South Wairarapa town in a fashion dramatically different from the lifestyle of a highflying British public servant.

His Featherston home was undergoing finishing touches to become a meditation sanctuary when it was destroyed by a blaze in August.

Now that the insurance has been sorted out, he has booked the builder for February to restore the house, but not to its former glory.

“We’ll have baths and showers and a massage room attached to it and just one guest bedroom… and it will be a proper art gallery as well as the spa.”

He expects the build to take a month, and for the retreat to launch in March.

Since the fire Mr Bearpark has been sleeping on his property in a “tiny house”, where he plans to stay living once the rebuild is complete.

“I treat it like a hotel bedroom. It’s somewhere to sleep at night, wake up in the morning, come back down to the garage where I live, carry on and it’s absolutely fantastic.

“It’s a delightful little room, you sleep perfectly, the dogs are happy and it takes five minutes to warm up so there were none of these heating bills during the winter.”

To accommodate more people, lotus belle-style tents will be set up in the yard during the warmer months.

“They’re absolutely gorgeous,” Mr Bearpark said.

“My only worry is whether they can really cope with the wind of Featherston, but I’m looking to that at the moment.”

Next winter Mr Bearpark would decide whether or not to expand his building plans.

The yoga room, which is in a separate structure from the house, is totally complete and is open for bookings.

Next to the yoga room there will be a purpose-built kitchen to be utilised by guests, where they can run their own cooking classes with friends.

Mr Bearpark said doctors indicated he would make a full recovery after the stroke.

“I’m fine, you must not let these things worry you,” he said.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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