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Planning Retirement Online

The Laterlife Challenge

Past Runners-up


If you've already seen the profiles of some of the Laterlife Challenge winners then for more interesting examples of making the most of retirement take a look at the stories of some of the runners up below. 

Laterlife Challenge Runner-up Profiles

Jill McLernon from Walton on Thames

Jill and John McLernon

John and I retired in 2005. We moved to Whiteley Village in Surrey (a Charity Trust retirement village) where we took up amateur dramatics and have been in the last four Easter shows and are looking forward to next Easter when the show has a Golden Anniversary. John and I will be singing solos, we are also doing a duet (dressed up) I cannot tell you what they are because it may spoil the show.

John is continuing to learn to play the clarinet, guitar and keyboard (he has a wonderful singing voice). I am learning and have played the flute on stage and also am learning to play the guitar. We enjoy performing and can be seen in our local Karaoke pubs at times.

In 2006 we bought ourselves an old caravan for £800.00 (never having been caravaners before)and an old car for £2,000.00 and booked the ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao in Spain and spent 11 weeks travelling through Spain to Cadiz and along the Costas through to France, where we stayed for a short time in the Pyranees. We met up with many interesting people including some entertainers and had some fun jam sessions. After which we travelled back across France to Calais and back to Dover and home.

During our stay in Spain we spent a couple of weeks in Salou when my parents joined us for a week. At 82 years old they stayed in a hotel and we took them out everyday and often back to the camp site and our caravan for BBQ's and music. Yes, we had with us, two guitars, a flute, a clarinet and a keyboard. Also a piano accordian which John attempts to play at times, to the amusement of ourselves and our friends. Sadly my Dad died very recently.

We dropped in to see a cousin in Almeria (Mojacar).
We had some mishaps, the clutch failed in the car. the steering went wrong, the roof light fell off the caravan, we got caught in torrential rainstorms and the awning fell down. Despite this we made the necessary repairs and giggled through the 11 weeks away.
We are still telling tales of our adventure and laughing.

In 2008 John and I were asked to be the Pearly King and Queen for the Whiteley Village Show, we had to hire some costumes and borrow my Dad's golf buggy and make ourselves noticed (we appeared in the local Surrey Herald).

After our trip we started to occasionally look after other villagers dogs when they were away and indeed we still do. We haven't owned a dog ourselves for some years as we both worked before retirement. It gave us enjoyment and much needed excuse to go for long walks in our beautiful village and through the woods. We never intended to have another dog of our own but along came Hattie, a very intelligent, cross bred Jack Russell, eight years old. We looked after her for many weekends and fell in love with her. Her owner had lost her partner and as she was working, Hattie was left alone for much of the time, Jan her owner decided that it would be kinder to Hattie to have her rehomed. John and I couldn't bear never to see Hattie again and so we adopted her.

I did the publicity for the village 'fun' dog show this year and entered Hattie for several classes.
Amazingly she walked off with Champion Dog and Top Dog prizes. (There were independent judges!!)
She has been a source of much comfort this year as we have lost four family members, the most difficult being our Grandson Gary who died in a motorcycle accident in April.

Together, John and I run a monthly Bingo session in the village (called Little Bingo) there is a Big Bingo for larger prizes. On the second Wednesday of each month we set up the machine, I sell the tickets and do the necessary paperwork and John calls the numbers. Midway through the session we have a raffle and tea and biscuits. We are accompanied by Hattie who lies quietly under John's chair until the biscuits arrive, when she visits the players for any spare crumbs.

All in all life is very busy and rewarding but we are looking forward to a happier year, next year.

Angie Briggs from Weymouth

In October 2008 we began an epic journey in India travelling around the globe backpacker style for 12 months. We packed up our house and rented it out to help fund the trip which was to include 4 continents and 15 countries. It was at times a bit nerve wracking but at the same time the most incredible journey of our lives.

We stayed in a variety of accommodation, mainly in hostels and sometimes with friends that we met along the way but we were moving constantly and keeping fit was an important part of our new lifestyle otherwise we'd never have coped. We cycled at every opportunity, climbed mountains, kayaked and sailed whenever possible and in many parts of the world we took advantage of warm oceans and swam almost every day.

Alan practices Tai Chi at home and joined in groups in parks all over the world while I photographed people and cultures and the ever changing landscape. We travelled on planes, trains, boats and buses and slept on sofa's, futons and overnight coaches which only enriched our experience.

We visited an orphanage in Cambodia and now that we're home we intend to raise money to improve the children's living conditions.

We have come to understand so much about different cultures and values all over the world. About poverty, loss, forgiveness and trauma for example in the peace gardens of Hiroshima and in the killing fields of Cambodia.

We were children in the 60's but met and married in the early 70's when the bravest of our friends talked of their adventures in travel. Since then our own children have travelled and married, so in 2008 after 30 years in the fire service we decided that it was our turn. We have met many wonderful people all over the world we carried a laptop and planned all but 5 nights of our accommodation as we went. We kept in touch with family on skype which helped to keep us going. I have taken hundreds of the most beautiful photographs of people and places that until now we had only read about. This really has been the journey of a lifetime.

Joan Smith from Ipswich

When I was due to retire from teaching I took a Master's Degree in French Literature at the university of East Anglia (I already have an Honours degree in English). By the time I retired I was writing regularly and my first collection of poetry won the Rosemary Arthur award (National Poetry Foundation) in 1995. A few years later I won First Prize in Peer Poetry's Reader's Choice competition, the prize being a full collection of my poetry published by Peer Poetry. My poems have also appeared in other smaller
collections and in reputable poetry magazines and anthologies. I have also written a novel ( so far unpublished) and some short stories (some of them published in magazines)

We retired to Skipton in Yorkshire because we both enjoyed walking and spent several happy years there. While we were there we also helped regularly in the Oxfam shop. I produced plays for the Skipton Little Theatre too. I also sing and belonged to choirs in Norwich, Skipton and still sing in two choirs in Ipswich and in our church choir.

My husband died last year. I have published with Poetry Monthly, a collection of poems in his memory and am selling the booklet, 'A Garland for David' in aid of Diabetes UK (he had diabetes for 5o years. We missed our diamond wedding by two years.

I walk with my daughter when she is free. I belong to a play-reading group and run a poetry group for the local University of the Third age. I also do a little voluntary work as a telephone befriender. Otherwise my contribution to society consists in contributing to good causes and writing to my M.P. to raise awareness of various environmental and other welfare matters, both human and animal.

I am 85 and fortunately very fit for my age.

Keith Paterson from Newmarket

I run a website at  to help older people understand what they can do with computers and especially the internet. I answer questions by email within 24 hours

I did a sponsored paraglide from 9000 ft Mount Babadag to Olu Deniz beach, Turkey.  The money goes to my favourite charity helping the kids of Port Elizabeth Townships. See 

My daughter, son in law and grandson all climbed Kilimanjaro with sponsorship and have raised thousands.  My own donations are going towards getting deprived kids to school after Christmas.  Over 100 have already been measured for shoes and, surprisingly, they HAVE to have uniform to go. You see these smart kids coming back from school, returning to their tin shacks in the township.  This little fellow was later found wandering the dirt roads and was taken into care. He is called 10c because he used to ask for ten cents to get some food when he arrived at the play group (supported by the Foundation)

Keith Hibberts from Staffordshire

I have now been retired 3 years and as I used to work at a Hospital radio when I was younger I thought I would go back into it and see what I could put back in the community. It really stretches the mind and keeps me active and helps the patients.

This article was featured in the On Air News a brochure all about Hospital radio and Volunteers. Hope you like it. Hospital Radio Stafford Hi Pop Pickers! It has been nearly two years now that I have been co-presenting a show with Hospital Radio Stafford as a presenter on Monday afternoons collecting requests from the patients on the wards and reading them on the air. Now the hierarchy at HRS have had a mental breakdown and decided to give me a show of my very own on Wednesday afternoons between 3 and 5pm. The bosses have said you can ‘’drive the desk’’ alone, excuse me I always thought you drove a car or a van! And I remember when a desk was where you wrote letters and paid bills but this studio desk had buttons, faders and allsorts (not the sweets). I asked what a fader was and was informed it turns up the music up and down…why can’t they call it er a volume control!!

Any way I pushed some buttons and I am sure I heard a spacecraft leave the Mir Space Station, I felt like a Star Trek Captain. I was then told to put the cans on my head and was looking for some baked bean cans strange I thought? It suddenly dawned on me they meant headphones!! Well I thought here go I introduced my first record, which was incidentally I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor a favourite with some patients and I thought this was appropriate for me. I thought I did great announcing this is Keith Hibberts live on HRS (till I thought it would be no good if I was dead).

Anyway I thought I was fabulous until I looked at the Microphone and noted that I had not switched the fader up!!…. It surprising how your voice changes once on air and announce things in a posh voice like ‘This is Starfford HorsePital Radio’….( What an Horsepital for Red Rum or Mr ED the horse!!) I soon used my normal voice. The show gets on it’s way but panic sets in when you realise you have not got a cd/disc ready for the next request but technology comes into play and I select a song from the computer selection list..clever eh! Bring the fader up…remember the fader? and listen Pop Pickers we are broadcasting.

We must remember who the station is for… yes the patients. They like to smile at themselves as some songs requested are as such :- Angels -Robbie Williams, Please Release Me - Engleburt Whotsit, Help me make it through the night – Gladys Knight and The Animals- We got to get out of this place. But jesting aside I love visiting the wards as you always receive a warm welcome especially when I introduce myself to the ladies as the hospital stripagram which raises a few smiles…I tell them I charge 30p an leg, 20p an arm and ?1.50 for a full body but have to come back when it is dark as I have seen this excuse for a body…as yet I have had no takers ‘odd that’

When I visit the men’s ward I tell them I am from Camelot the lottery people and have a cheque for ?6 million to share with a lucky chap.. and funny this!…. I always have a show hands. There are some patients who do not want a request or a mention on the air but just want to chat and all HRS presenters are happy to do just that, as Hospital Radio Stafford’s motto is ‘Voice of a Friend’ It is rewarding to feel that I am putting something back into the community and having a good time as well

Let me give you a brief history of HRS. Hospital Radio Stafford was formed in November 1971 and in January 1972 commenced broadcasts from a tiny studio, which had been fitted into the only space the Health Authority at the time, could spare, under the stage of St.George’s Hospital in Stafford. The first broadcast had the Mayor of Stafford in attendance and a good luck message from Radio 2 presenter Sir Jimmy Young was broadcast.

By 1973 the station’s equipment and record collection was building up nicely and the service also expanded its catchment area to include not only Stafford’s Hospitals but also those near Stone and Cannock. With the construction of a large modern hospital in Stafford in the early 80’s, these hospitals closed and HRS found itself broadcasting just to Stafford once again. In 1978 HRS was offered a new spacious home, its own building on the site of the new District General Hospital. Two new studios were built along with a large record library and an engineering room, where the vital equipment used to send the audio signals to the hospitals is kept. Chris Tarrant the TV celebrity opened the new studios.

Through the eighties, HRS membership expanded to over 50 and by now the station was offering a daily service to patients, totalling over 40 hours of programmes every week. 1989 saw the visit to the studios from Central TV cameras, with HRS appearing on screens across the Midlands as news of a 24 hour marathon broadcast was shown. 1996, 97 and 98 were all winning years for Hospital Radio Stafford. In 1996 the station was voted No.1 hospital radio in the UK by listeners to Radio 2 in their “ Patients Choice” awards. 1997 also saw HRS continue its winning ways by taking first prize in the West Midlands region of the BT sponsored national Hospital Radio Awards. One of our pesenters Alan Merrick was voted “West Midlands Presenter of the Year 1999” and presenter Steve Hyden was a National Runner Up in 2000.

When the station first started all the music was played using vinyl records but today they are now in far less use, compact disks, mini disks and a computer play out system dominate. However presenters still receive requests that are only available on vinyl. New technology is taking place all the time in the broadcasting industry and HRS, funds permitting, is keeping abreast with the many changes and challenges presented. We also do outside broadcasts throughout the Stafford and Cannock area and is always a fun day out. If you are ever you are in the Stafford or Cannock area give us call on 01785 223456 and you will hear the ‘Voice of a Friend’ Or you can visit our website and take a look around. Our Web Site is

Lea Grocot from Liphook

I have always enjoyed driving and to move into something other than cars, which I have driven all my life, I now drive a 16 seater minibus for the local Community trust. But even more fun, I drive an open topped double decker bus (1957 leyland ex-London Tours) for a local museum.

My retirement has coincided with being appointed one of two church wardens for our local church. It is particularly busy because we are in the planning phase of getting an annexe built onto the church (a listed building!)

To keep my brain cells active (and to check that they are all still working) I have taken up piano lessons!

I have also tapped into the knowledge and experience I had when I left work by doing a little consultancy which is fun.

Chris Tormey from Gloucestershire

I retired to take up self-employment in 1999 in partnership with my wife. We ran a Health and Nutrition business until March 2008 when we closed it down to free up time for other things.

In 2003 I became involved in fighting against an inappropriate development on a local farm for a Wind Turbine proposed by a developer to the local farmer. I became part of a team of four people and we successfully fought off the proposal. During this period I started a blog site ( ) which continues today with updates and issues that affect the local community.

In 2007 it became apparent that the local magazine, The Chimes, was about to fail due to the retirement of the two Editors who wished to fully retire. I instigated the replacement of them by offering my services and those of two neighbours as a trio to take on the publication. Since then we have grown The Chimes to a circulation of 1000 to cover four parishes. Our income is from advertising and donations and we are non-profit making. We work on a rotation basis such that we each edit the magazine three monthly, but I ensure that the adverts are correctly inserted and displayed.

I have also become a local Councillor representing the parishioners of Aston Ingham, meeting monthly, and I produce the Aston Ingham blogsite which lists the Meeting Minutes ( )

I am also the Chairman of the Gorsley Garden Club which organises speakers in the winter months and garden visits in the summer. I and my wife joined the National Garden Scheme in 2008 and opened our garden, along with two others in August that year. Unfortunately the other two gardens withdrew this year so we opened to support the Aston Ingham Garden Weekend in July.

I think you could safely say that we have been a little busy since 'retiring'. But it is great fun and rewarding in helping the local community.

Richard Douglas from Edinburgh

I took voluntary early retirement in April 2008 at the tender age of 56. In the beginning I felt as if I was on vacation. I certainly used my early free time to take my MG to the north of France and drive around the many small villages of one of my favourite countries.

A couple of months later I opted to take a cheaper and more relaxed holiday to the South of France and flew from Edinburgh to Nice. I stayed for a month in a mobile home in St Raphael, toured by local transport and also rented a car for the more distant journeys into the Esterel mountains.

August in Edinburgh sees the International Festival in the city and it had been many years since I had attended most of the shows and walked the streets like a tourist. Well with time on my hands I became a tourist in my home town visiting museums, shows, historic sites, lectures in universities, walks (some free tourist ones down the historic Royal Mile) and seeing many of the visiting performers who bring their own style of show to The Fringe.

Autumn soon arrived so time to take the caravan to warmer climates. Devon and Cornwall are British favourite of mine so six weeks there was a very welcome break. meeting people in the caravanning fraternity, bowling clubs (as a playing visitor I was made most welcome) and generally speaking with people to learn local habits, customs and life.

Time now to prepare for the onset of winter and the festive season - that time already? As fate had it my local college in Edinburgh had spent several millions on a new sport facility and opened it up to members of the public. However it was cheaper to become a student and get access to the swimming pool and gym at anytime throughout the seven days of the week and not be limited to off peak hours. So it was I was persuaded to become a mature student. I had used computers throughout my working life but really I did not have any formal qualifications. This opportunity therefore presented two objectives and I began to study twice a week for qualifications in Microsoft Office known as ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence). To motivate me in using the facilities of the Club I enrolled into the twice weekly aquafit club.

As a 57 year old (birthday had come and gone by now) I seemed to be the "toy boy" of the classes. It is really regrettable that I was the sole male in the class of 12. Why? Considering that statistically the male does not last as long as the female this seems a lost opportunity and makes me wonder if there is a marketing opportunity here? Ah here I go trying to delve into mental games and pondering some of the reasons for life and its alternative, something with time on my hands I seem to to do more often nowadays.

For a short while at the start of retirement I had thought of becoming a consultant in marketing and management but thankfully I changed direction, fast! Anyway I was made very welcome to these classes and I make a diary appointment that in addition to the aquafit I also swim on three other days each week. I am not preparing to swim the Channel so I take my time, relax and enjoy my time in the pool, steam room etc. The gym has all the modern equipment but is usually well attended with those more energetic souls (and also younger!) and it is not something that appeals to me at this time. However the opportunity is there for gentle exercise in the winter months.

In May 2009 I successfully qualified in my studies for ECDL - job done! Summer approaching what next? I used to sail and in my younger days owned a sail boat. Reading some magazines reminded me of the fun I used to have on the water and so it was I enrolled on a Powerboat course with the local authoriity at Port Edgar just outside Edinburgh. This was a full two day course over a weekend but on successful completion would present me with a driving licence for powerboats acceptable across Europe and allow me to rent a boat up to 10 metres anywhere in the EU. Doing this in the South of France sometime in the future sounded too good to be true. In June I passed and I am now a member of RYA with a qualification that opens new doors ahead.

As a student I was entitled to certain discounts and when a good secondhand guitar came my way I took the opportunity. Now I am no Bob Dylan or Eric Clapton but the thought of entertaining myself and learning a new and hopefully enjoyable skill (to my, and others, ears) seemed too good to miss. I now have the equipment and I am currently looking for the best facility to learn properly and with support. A "job" for the coming winter perhaps?

I have planned to continue with my studies at college and I have reserved a place in advanced computing. September will see if that goes ahead. Every Sunday, as a qualified bowls coach, I take a class at the local authority sports hall for disabled bowlers. These people range from difficult learning, downs syndrome, cerebral palsy, stroke victims etc. but it is an extremely rewarding opportunity to help them achieve their goals and ambitions whilst at the same time giving them the independence and satisfaction of a fun day out.

As you can see much of my time is accounted for but as summer goes into Autumn again I have new plans for the coming year. In addition to my weekly regime of swimming a new Tai Chi class starts in August, studies resume in September, touring caravan holiday in Norfolk and the South East are scheduled for mid September to mid October (no school children), start of a winter season of indoor bowling, guitar lessons to be identified and booked, part time introduction classes to Chiropractic from September and possibly a holiday to Spain for some winter sun before Christmas.

No one should fear retirement just look at it as a huge opportunity to become young again. I keep a diary to manage my time. I identify interests, make objectives, compile plans how and what I will do and when. Please do not get the wrong idea I am not too structured after all I do have the time to be flexible but by controlling my time I feel I can achieve more. I hope the enthusiasm lasts, the money is not depleted by the recession (although none of the above actually cost too much what with student discounts and good timing for cheap rates [ a Scot after all] ) and my health continues.

Fortunately I have little time to worry about any of these and all I would say is DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY AND MAKE THE MOST OF THE OPPORTUNITY. Good health and happy retirement.

Annette Martens from Rochdale

My name is Annette. I am 64 years old and I started my new life of retirement on my 60th birthday when I came home to find my children had bought me some paints, an easel and canvas. I'd never had a painting lesson but I took a photo of one of my daughters and painted her portrait. People were amazed (mostly me!) and I started getting offers of money if I'd paint grandchildren etc.

My next project was writing. I'd been on radio with my poetry when I was young (40 years ago!) but had gone no further. I decided to stop being a wimp and learn to use the computer and start to do Poetry on Demand. Writing unique and lovely stuff for people who wanted a special gift. I'd always given it away (still do) but am making a web site to try and sell this as I live on a basic pension.

My next project was to (for the first time) direct a play for my local church and at Easter, we produced His Last Days which was awesome so I'm told. I found I love acting as well and am quite good at it and I write the scripts.

Having looked after my mum till last year when she died at 90, (she had alzheimers), I continue to take an elderly lady out each week to lunch and market. I am going on a mission abroad to care for some poor people in the Appelations (is that how it's spelt?') as I've always wanted to help the hurt and homeless. Obviously I combine these activities with babysitting my grandchildren and doing other granny and mummy things.

Oh yes, I started doing all this after having a heart attack. I also have Crohns Disease, COPD and arthritis in the knees but hey, if I don't do it now, I'll never get started and life is now full and fun and very satisfying. The only limits we have as older folk are in our own heads. If you've always wanted to do it. Do it now. Annette Keeble Martens. ps. If you want to read my poetry, you can find it by typing in Annette Martens on the UK website and clicking on my name. Its free to download.

Gwen Zanzottera 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.


More examples

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 More Great Entries

Challenge winners 2

Challenge winners 3

Some runners up

Retirement examples 1

Retirement examples 2

Retirement examples 3

Retirement examples 4



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