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Planning Retirement Online

The LaterLife Challenge
Making the most of retirement

Take a look at what others are doing in their retirement. We hope it will inspire you to enter the LaterLife Challenge and share how you are making the most of retirement (you can remain anonymous if you wish). Don't forget you can win a great prize just by entering.

Christine receiving her award from Tony Clack (MD of Laterlife) in the clubhouse of Greetham Valley Golf ClubJohn standing on the wing of the Warrior in which he learnt to flyRoy at 'the sea walls' Bristol

Laterlife Challenge Entries

Why not enter the Laterlife Challenge yourself?
We'd love to hear how you are spending your retirement whatever you are doing

Gwen from Stratford upon Avon

I am 79 and having the time of my life.

I changed career completely when I retired at 61 and trained to be a tour guide on the local open top tour buses, and later a Blue Badge Guide for the Heart of England. I give talks (sometimes for charity) on Going Topless In Stratford and do walking tours of Birmingham and coach tours of the Cotswolds, as well as the open top tours in the summer.

A friend of mine started a company doing Murder Evenings and Murder Weekends and so I joined the company. After 16 years she has sold the company but I am still taking part, travelling all over the country killing or being killed.

A local Writing Group has helped me to improve my creative writing and I have had short stories and poems published.

Oh, and I sing in a choir now that slight arthritis in my knee means I can no longer caper about in the local Operatic Society shows.

Jane from Almeria in Spain

My husband was forcibly retired twelve years ago in his early fifties. He couldn't get to grips with the idea of not working so when another opportunity arose he took it, but the new company was soon taken over and he found himself redundant again.

I managed to convince him that it was time to see if we could fulfil my life's dream of retirement to France, running a B&B and maybe a couple of gites. The south west appealed to me, but a two week holiday there in October 1998 soon convinced us that it had to be somewhere further south for proper guaranteed winter sun. Italy was the next most obvious choice as I already spoke Italian as well as French, but the areas we like were way beyond our budget. We heard that there were coastal places in southern Spain that were not as built up as the usual costas and ended up researching eastern Andalucia, the province of Almeria.

The rest is history. We fell totally in love with it, and (rather rashly with hindsight!) bought a very large plot of land near the beautiful little hill village of Bedar. Getting consent to build on this piece of rural land took a very long time (from 1999 to 2004!).

Meantime, Terry being incapable of doing nothing, we bought a house to do up as a project to keep him busy. It was far bigger than we were looking for and had many more problems than we anticipated. The total job took us from 2002 to 2006, and when we had finished, our new house was still not complete (lots of difficulties with builders), so we started to do B&B there, enjoying every moment of the sociable and catering aspects of our new life, with clients from all over Europe.

Finally in July 2008 our new house was pretty well complete and we moved there, having decided to do all the finishing touches ourselves, including fitting bathrooms, some of the tiling and all of the landscaping. It took me the best part of a year to get all the soft furnishings and interior d?or sorted but this summer we welcomed our first B&B guests here. They have been wowed by the wonderful, peaceful setting with stunning mountain views and just 30 minutes inland. We missed the peak of the market for selling our old house so we are also very busy with that, doing changeovers for holiday lets. Terry still has plenty of landscaping to do outside, and we have almonds, oranges and other fruit trees to tend - at 66 he still shows no sign of slowing up.

I mastered Spanish quite quickly and am often called on to help out friends with doctor's visits and other times when pidgin Spanish won't do. I also help several English friends with holiday properties to secure Spanish bookings, so that they are not reliant on the UK market. I am involved with our a local group raising funds for the Spanish Cancer Association (which funds most of the breast screening here) and with a local animal rescue charity and over the last few years I have made hundreds of kilos of jam, marmalade and chutney to raise funds them and for various other short term fundraising requirements. Our local village has many expats (by no means all English) but they are nearly all year-round residents, well integrated with the local community and always ready to pitch in and help when someone needs it. I have also recently started to attend pottery classes and am completely hooked: I am not very good but we have a great teacher and I have already made some passable items.

Visitors often tell us how brave we are to have taken the decision we took ten years but we saw a complete change of lifestyle as a new lease of life. We wouldn't change our life here for anything: the children and grandchildren visit for a week or more at a time which means that we get great quality time with them.

Ray from St Albans

I started thinking about my “laterlife” aims when I was about 50. Perhaps my first real commitment was to join the council (committee to the English) of my local Caledonian Society (St Albans & Mid Herts Caledonian Society) in 1995 progressing on to be Vice-President for two years and President for a further two years. As President I ran the council which organised some 35 events each year including Burns’ Supper, St Andrew’s Supper, a Ceilidh and attendance at the Harpenden Highland Games. I’ve also spoken at two Burns’ Suppers – both times to toast The Lassies, the last time was earlier this year.

I was President whilst I was still working for ICL as the Market Researcher in the Consultancy and Project Services Division. During this time I decided that I intended to retire at about 60 and I wanted to do something when I retired. My thoughts turned to my great love of the 1960s – Rhythm & Blues. I hadn’t played the bass guitar for about 30 years but why not again, and why not now? So after I’d bought my bass and practice amplifier I soon realised that practising at home was not my idea of fun – what better way to get those skills back than to form a band? Note that I formed the band – I’m told I’m a control freak, but really it was that I didn’t trust my skill level to get me into a band; also I had very firm ideas about what I wanted to play (blues) and when I wanted to play it (weekdays only as weekends were already full with family and social commitments).

So the first recruit was found in October 2001. In no time it was June 2007, and after six years and 14 guitarists the current (hopefully stable) line-up was formed; in the eight years I’ve had only four drummers, six vocalists and two names – we’re now “Out of the Blue”. I get the gigs and manage the repertoire and rehearsals and we’re now gigging successfully around Herts and Essex – you can go to our website for some video and audio examples ( ). Oh yes, I also have a rehearsal band with an organist/vocalist where we concentrate on writing and arranging our own material – just for fun.

In the meantime my intentions to retire at 60 were pre-empted by the big ICL redundancy programme in 2002; I was initially stunned at being asked to go, after all I was unique – no-one else did my job for the division. But then the realisation dawned that the company had made the decision which I was afraid to make; this was that I wasn’t really that interested any more and I was just coasting. I didn’t then think I wanted to stop working so three job interviews later I had found a job in the Admissions Department of Hertfordshire University in nearby Hatfield. That job gave me time to acclimatise outside the ICL environment I had known for nearly 30 years and after two years there, at 59, I decided I really wanted to “give something back”. I left the university and had found a job working a day a week for a charity called Tactile Diagrams (TD) which was, coincidentally, based at the university. TD design and make diagrams for blind and partially-sited people; these may be educational, mapping or just for entertainment.

TD wanted someone to maintain and build websites for them. Well I had handcrafted small websites for the caledonian society and for the family, hadn’t I? As TD were desperate and offered training on Dreamweaver they took me on. They got their sites maintained and I learned how to build and maintain a proper site. After a year Tactile Diagrams merged with RNIB and relocated to Birmingham, but I found that the Welwyn Hatfield Ethnic Minority Group (WHEMG) which is just up the road in Hatfield wanted a web designer to build and maintain the website for its annual Kaleidoscope Festival, which celebrates the cultural diversity in Welwyn Hatfield with food stalls, music, kids activities and information stalls. I started work just before the 2005 festival and got a pre-existent embryonic website up and running before the event in July. I have been developing this over the last four years and now it just needs minor updates year-on-year. So now I also maintain the WHEMG main website and also that for the Community & Voluntary Service in Welwyn Hatfield. You can see these at  ,  and  respectively. As these are all stable I am now designing a site for the Knebworth Sports Club which provides sports facilities and tuition for people with disabilities.

In the meantime my wife, Alison, has been working in the local charity shop for the Children’s Society, working on the local RNLI committee which includes organising collections during National Lifeboat Week, and also acting as Secretary for her Old Girls’ Association (OGA) of St Albans Girls’ School. I am a sort of honorary member of the OGA as I act as Membership Secretary having set up a membership database and emailing system for them. We now have about 30% of the members in email contact making significant saving in printing and postage costs for the association.

Alongside this we find time to have our youngest granddaughter one day a week. Sophie is now three and will soon be going to the Nursery class, so we’ll have less opportunity to have her, but as we had her older sister, Lucy (now six), similarly until she was three we have been very fortunate.

Two years ago in 2007 we both decided that we still had some spare time and started voluntary work at the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban. This is one of the largest churches in the world with a 300ft nave. It is much visited as it is a welcoming place that makes no visitor charge. It has 1000 volunteers which is twice as many as Canterbury which makes a significant entry charge. Alison works on the Information Desk answering questions from visitors, pointing them in the right direction and selling tickets for the many music events held in the cathedral. Having had great fun with our two granddaughters I decided to work in the Education Centre (EC). EC offers trails and workshops for children, these fit within the National Curriculum and are mainly delivered by volunteers under the guidance of four permanent teaching staff. The team has achieved five Sandford Awards for Heritage Education and the main attribute is the way in which we “nurture the pupils’ sense of awe”; the “wow factor” is what we aim for and it’s a joy to interact with the kids – I focus on the “Alban and the Romans” story and the “Five Senses”. In the first trail we tell the story of Alban, the first “english” martyr, in the context of the Roman invasion, the kids act out the story and then go on to visit the shrine and learn how the church developed from Roman times to the current (largely) Norman building. In the second trail we use the resources of the church to introduce Reception and Year 1 kids to their five senses. We feel the building, smell the candles, hear the bells, see the images and pictures and taste easter eggs! All the time these senses are related to the history and function of the church itself.

So what do Alison and I do for entertainment? Well by the end of this year we’ll have been to 14 plays or concerts (including The Teddy Bears’ Picnic and Noddy!), taken the family to Scotland to celebrate our wedding anniversary, visited South Africa and Majorca, visited several “Stately Homes” and entertained at home most weekends So there you have nearly 15 years of my Laterlife. Have I enjoyed it all? Yes the family and working with kids is great, but so is everything else. Have I benefited? Well, I’ve learned some new skills in teaching and web design. Am I stereotype of the over-sixties? Well how many run and play in a band at 64? Do I use my skills? Well I’ve always been an organiser, good with people and pretty good with IT; so yes. Do I do things for others? Only if you count the web designing for several charities, the work in the cathedral and the membership work for my wife’s OGA! And do I gain personal benefit? Need you ask?

Dinah from Guildford

A few years ago I was made redundant from my senior job in market research, a career I had pursued for over 30 years. I decided to go back to university, using my redundancy pay to live on, together with some freelance earnings and savings. I did a MSc in Social Psychology at the University of Surrey. That was very interesting and updated my knowledge and skills in the area of social psychology. It was a great experience to be a student again, with people much younger than myself, although few of them were doing the course straight after their first degrees, so were technically 'mature' students. The lecturers were also mainly quite a lot younger than me (I was 54 at the time). My younger children were also students at the time, and might have found it odd to have a student parent!

I was then offered the chance to continue and do a PhD in social psychology and was even given funding by the university, which paid my fees plus a tax-free bursary. To 'earn' this I had to do some teaching work which I greatly enjoyed - I had never taught before. The subject of my PhD was: Ageism in the workplace. I was trying to find out why there is age discrimination: what it is about older people which seems to make employers wary of hiring them. I worked on this within the framework of some social psychological theories about stigma and discrimination. I found out that employment decision makers in organisations tend to view older workers (50+) in stereotyped ways and assume they will be lacking in energy or ambition, out of date and unwilling to learn new skills (especially in IT matters), and merely 'looking forward to retirement' rather than putting effort into doing their jobs. There is also a tendency to put all older people into the 'past it' category, whether they are 51 or 101.

 Nowadays, 'work' itself is viewed as likely to be highly stressful with tough targets to meet, and often managers' pay depends on their teams meeting these tough targets. Therefore, they want to reduce the risk of failing to meet them, by hiring only people they think will 'contribute 120%' to these goals. Together with the stereotyped assumptions about older workers, this means that they tend to prefer to hire younger ones, with people in their 30s being the most attractive age group.

This was shown via a combination of 'qualitative' research (talking in depth to managers and to older workers themselves) and a 'quantitative' experimental study (in which managers had to choose between a range of potential 'candidates' for jobs involving higher or lower stress in terms of meeting targets. It was found that older candidates (in their fifties but also forties) were far less attractive if the job to be filled appeared to involve higher stress and tough targets. This is actually a new contribution to the sum of knowledge about ageism and age discrimination in the workplace and goes some way towards explaining why age discrimination takes place and employers may be reluctant to take on older people.

My PhD was awarded in June 2008, and I have presented this work at a variety of conferences in the fields of social psychology and gerontology and am also writing up papers for publication. Having read about the 'Laterlife Challenge' I wanted to tell people about doing this research, as I found the whole process very enjoyable and satisfying. So the redundancy I experienced at 54 (probably on grounds of ageism!) ended up leading me to new experiences which have been very interesting, satisfying, and, I believe, useful to the sum of knowledge about ageism at work. I would encourage anyone who has dreams of going back to university, to give it a try. It is unlikely they will feel out of place, and far more likely that they will find that their life skills and experience equip them very well for the work, and that their fellow students and even lecturers will welcome the point of view they can contribute.

Carol from Rushden

As a widow of three years, but still working I wanted to get to know more people in my area and do other things. I had seen a article in my local free paper about the 50+ Adventure Club and thought it sounded very exciting.

I joined in January 2008 and have taken part in some brilliant activities which I enjoyed and a very few that I didn't! I have been white water rafting at the national centre in Bala, North Wales, go-carting, quad biking, learnt to sail, done Go-Ape twice, orienteering, tandem and solo cycling, clay pigeon shooting, canoeing down both the Severn and Wye, horse back riding, leant to play petanque, indoor bowls and ten pin bowling, dancing etc etc. Still to come this year is gorge scrambling, Via Ferrata, fencing, punting, raft building etc.

The activities that I take part in are governed by their cost now that I am full time retired. I have been a committee member for nearly a year, which means planning different activities. I have also done a tandem parachute jump for charity raising about ?1,000 for the Suzy Lamplugh trust.

Since retiring I have joined a new branch of U3A in my area and am leading on handicrafts, I have to say against my better judgement, but also attend other groups as an active member. I am enjoying these and have learnt a lot already although we have only been set up three months. I am also a long standing member of a patchwork group and can now attend weekday workshops, which I could not do when working.

For six years I have been a non-executive Board member of my locally run council not-for-profit leisure centres and I am a member of the gym and try to go at least twice a week. I now play golf on a weekly basis as well. I have my garden to do as well as grandchildren who I try to see regularly How I fitted in work I shall never know, but I realise that I have to make the effort to be active, whether socially or doing my 'adventures', as cannot rely on others.

Steve from Kent

Active? You bet... find it impossible not to be. I have three main activities, each of which takes up half of my time. The challenge of fitting it all in does not stop with retirement!

I'm two thirds of the way through a part time PhD with the Open University, on the topic of solar photovoltaics in Germany. I started in 2005 (aged 51) while still working.

Active in the Transition Town initiative here in Sevenoaks, part of the now international network which aims to catalyse a community led response to the impacts of climate change and rising fossil fuel cost, building local resilience through a gradual shift to a better way of living. I contribute former career skills: writing, inc funding bids, and networking with other community organisations, local councils, and national NGOs. I also volunteer at our community arts centre, and at Fordhall Farm in Shropshire (one of 8000 co-owners).

And the third activity? Have got very much into growing our own vegetables: made raised beds in the garden, and have a small allotment plot (waitlisted for larger one).

All that on top of "life admin" paperwork, sorting out little tasks in the house, and parenting teenage daughter. And solving and setting cryptic crosswords. And membership of various societies, inc the friends of our twin towns in Germany and France, Mensa, Green Party (stood as county council candidate in June 2009). Excuse me, I think I need a little lie-down....


More examples

Challenge winners 3

Some runners up

Retirement examples 1

Retirement examples 2

Retirement examples 3

Retirement examples 4


Why not enter the LaterLife Challenge yourself?

We'd love to hear how you are spending your later life whatever you are doing

Back to LaterLife Challenge




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