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Pete Robertson, Regional Winner South East, LaterLife Challenge

If Pete Robertson were in his twenties, we would be thinking wow, this man is certainly making the most of life. With a myriad of activities that cover adventure, exploration, learning and contributing to society, he is clearly someone who is really achieving.

But Pete is in his sixties, which makes his zest for life even more remarkable.

When we spoke to Pete Robertson, winner of the South East region of the Laterlife Challenge, we found he has done even more than the wealth of activities included in his official entry; and it is not surprising that the local media enthusiastically covered his activities when they learned he had been named Regional Winner South East of the Laterlife Challenge.

His story is below….

I've spent a good deal of my time since taking early retirement six and a half years ago just enjoying being retired, and doing whatever I fancy on any given day, including doing nothing in particular. But The LaterLife Challenge is about new experiences, discoveries and being active, so here's a summary of three of the more interesting activities I've been up to in that time.

Firstly, the walking. Like many, I do a country ramble with friends once a week, usually about 20km and always including a pub lunch, plus visits to the Lakes, The Dales, the Peak District, Wales and Ireland. Further afield, my wife and I have walked in Italy (Bologna to Florence and Florence to Siena being the best, combining country inns and renaissance art), in Spain and France (crossing the Pyrenees between the two).

For more challenge, I am collecting "Munros" - mountains in Scotland over 3000ft - and have now completed 215 of the 282 total. 114 of those are since I retired, and 139 have been in winter - the "challenge" is often to see your way through the blizzard to the summit! Ice axe, crampons and determination are all essential. Whether I'll complete the 282 before my knees give out remains to be seen - living 600 miles south doesn't help.

The above implies travel, and I've been doing a fair bit of that, but easily the most significant trip was just after I retired, when I went all the way round the world by sea. I travelled as a passenger on container ships, westbound from Tilbury to New Zealand via 11 ports of call and the Panama Canal. Following six weeks exploring New Zealand, I embarked again and travelled back to Tilbury westbound again, via six ports of call and the Suez Canal. We saw many exotic places and wildlife, had an encounter with the Royal Navy in the Red Sea, and learned a lot about global commerce, but I won't go into detail, as I previously wrote an article on this for LaterLife. The trip of a lifetime took four and a half months to complete.

At a more intellectual level, I've been able to pursue what was previously a casual interest in archaeology - I attended a few short classes, then signed up for a Master's course. This has resulted in a Master of Research in Archaeology degree with Distinction, largely based on my dissertation on Iron Age hill forts and their development as defensive structures. I've also had training at excavation and am part of a team working on a hillfort in North Wales in the summers. As I'm acutely aware that my mental abilities are declining with age just as rapidly as my physical ones, this has been reassuring that I'm not yet completely past it! I hope the above shows that life after retirement has plenty to offer, if you have the interest and initiative to take it on.

Also a big congratulations go of course to our overall Challenge winner Annie Makepeace, who you can read more about here.

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