Character and motivation
Manuela Schenkel develops a unique concept inspired by her grandmother, Hedwig Schenkel.
Profile Manuela Schenkel
Manuela Schenkel exudes an air of calm but is motivated by an unquenchable longing for adventure. This led her to spend nine months on the Caribbean island of Martinique in her university days. Now she plans to ‘bring about something special’ through the creation of the Hedwig-Schenkel-Haus, a residential project for German-speaking people aged 60 plus.
Manuela understands the importance of efficiency in her residential project and her role as general manager for UK Dies Group, a British manufacturer for the automotive industry. On a personal level, Manuela is not motivated by money. But having completed a master’s degree in International Business Management with languages, she understands balance sheets. Manuela’s adventurous spirit led her to England in 1994, where she initially worked in a care home helping people with dementia, before running a family business for 20 years.
Born in 1971 in southwestern Germany, Manuela grew up with several generations under one roof. Even as a child, she appreciated the collected life experiences of the Schenkel household. She was gifted a great love of nature and reading by her grandmother, Hedwig. ‘My dad's mum paved the way for my spiritual development and taught me the value of true tolerance’, explains Manuela.
During a sabbatical year, she worked for a charity, helping elderly people through exercising to music and improving cognitive response. Manuela keeps her own mind and body sound through practising yoga. She has completed her internationally approved 200-hour yoga teacher training and enjoys teaching both the exercise and the meditation techniques. Last but not least, as a volunteer for the Marie Curie charity, Manuela visits terminally ill patients at home or in the hospice. Special training courses mean she is adept at handling wheelchairs and can give specialist massages in palliative care.
Selection of certificates
Profile Hedwig Schenkel (1910–2000)
The Hedwig-Schenkel-Haus is based on the ideals of its name giver. ‘My grandmother had an irrepressible zest for life, pursuing her goals and personal growth with a passion’, recalls Manuela Schenkel who wants to fight against inner emptiness: ‘I admire my grandma for her victories over loneliness. Whenever she stumbled over an obstacle, she would always get up again’.
The daughter of a forester moved to Oggersheim in Ludwigshafen upon Rhine after she got married to Karl in 1935. ‘Mum loved walking in nature’, says son Wolfgang, ‘but my father had little time for this’. In their later years, Karl watched as his wife sat under her favourite trees, painting the surrounding scenery. For many years, Hedwig worked as a primary school teacher. Whilst her librarian husband taught their four children ancient Greek and furthered their academic education, raising them was left to Hedwig. ‘Grandma did all the practical stuff’, recounts Manuela: ‘She started up the wood stoves in the morning, did all the household chores and held down a full-time job. And still found time to get her driver's licence’.
‘My grandparents were voracious readers, real bookworms’, Manuela recalls fondly: ’With grandma, we were always doing something – reading, arts and crafts, painting, playing music, or enjoying our puppet theatre’. Hedwig was a great facilitator. Once, she managed to slide a grandfather clock through the sunroof of Wolfgang's VW Beetle. Following a daring transport to school, she used it to teach her pupils how to tell the time hands-on.
Karl passed away in 1987. Despite her loss, Hedwig still lived with great gusto, visiting friends and pursuing her hobbies. In the eighties, she suffered a sudden hearing loss, but this didn't stop her from playing her beloved piano. When her hearing waned further following a stroke, her only means of communication was a notepad that she carried at all times, limiting her contact with the outside world. After a second stroke, Hedwig taught herself to paint with her left hand. She remained fascinated with art, philosophy, religion and current affairs right through to her final days. When she passed away shortly before her 90th birthday, she lived on as Manuela's role model: ‘Her eyes were beaming until the end’.
The concept of the Hedwig-Schenkel-Haus was born in 2017, as Manuela Schenkel gathered ideas on her colourful vision board. This process helped to brainstorm thoughts, and to nail down keywords before they could vanish again.
The driving force behind the idea was the urge for freedom, and a desire for community spirit coupled with spirituality. Happiness, health and mutual respect are the hallmarks of life here. Our aesthetic standards aim to restore balance, form and harmony. Our residents seek individuality and independence, whilst vanquishing isolation or materialism. The Hedwig-Schenkel-Haus is not intended to be a pensioners' paradise. The resolution of conflicts is part of life. But here, open-minded people who respect our values will have the chance to pursue what they desire in a community of like-minded fellows.