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Planning Retirement Online

The Laterlife Challenge

Past Winners

Challenge prizes

The LaterLife Challenge has always attracted an interesting and active group of people.

The judges always have a daunting task whittling the applications down. They first select 3 regional finalists for each region and from these they select one overall winner for each region.

They then go on to choose a national winner.

Some past regional and national winners of the past few years are are below and there are also links at the bottom of the page to some of the other entries, providing many great examples of making the most of retirement.

Laterlife Challenge Citations and Winner Profiles:

Marian Venn from Cheltenham

Ray Wilson from St Albans

Carol Pullen from Rushden

Patricia Kelly from Nelson, Lancashire

Maureen Sommerville from Dudley

and more to be found here

Marian Venn from Cheltenham


Marian is a worthy winner of the LaterLife Challenge because of her range of activities. They range from helping others to what might be described as the sheer foolhardy – particularly as she has had a full knee replacement!

The judges were extremely impressed by her determination to overcome setbacks and the way that she has used this determination both for her own and other people’s benefit. Not content with just joining various organisations, she has taken a major role in them and helped contribute to people’s and to the community’s welfare. Her range of physical achievements is also extremely impressive and here, too, she helps other people, as well as herself, through her swimming teaching.

Marian has achieved, and is still achieving, a whole range of experiences and achievements and well deserves to be a winner of the LaterLife Challenge for making the most of retirement.


I retired from Teaching in a Public School at 60 years where my last position was Swim Coach some A Level PE and Manager of the 600 seater theatre.

My life since then has never been busier-Firstly I became a District Census Officer and spent many days in the Local job centre recruiting Team Leaders and Enumerators. For the first time Census forms were sent back and not collected so my teams had to collect from the GPO and sort at my house and my living rooms became full of boxed forms.

Then I became a Saga Holiday Host and accompanied many Saga Clients on Cruises around the world to places I'd always wanted to see. The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, The Capital cities of most European Countries and the Idyllic Caribbean. I also hosted Saga Christmas Breaks and Single Holidays in Spain and UK.

I then had to have a full knee replacement and curtail for a time these activities. My youngest daughter had died tragically at 27yrs in 1999 and I needed to keep busy and found a couple of years later The Compassionate Friends an organisation run by bereaved parents for bereaved parents. I got involved and became a Trustee and member of The National Committee for 7 years. As Events Director i was responsible for organising The National Gathering and also attended the International Bereavement Conference in Vancouver. On a Local level I held meetings in my house and arranged fundraising coffee mornings and a Sponsored Swim for TCF Funds and am still involved with the organisation.

In voluntary work I have been a Magistrate for 18years and sat on the Licensing Courts and Youth Courts in addition to the Criminal Courts and as a Mentor to New Magistrates a post I will have to retire from next year at 70.

Since I retired from Teaching for fun I have been up in a Hot Air Balloon, ridden a Quad Bike in USA and walked on a Glacier in Alaska which I was very proud to do with my New Knee. I currently organise a Singles Dining Club for the Over 60s give or take a bit! and been Chairman of a Ladies Tangent Club, also a member of a Lolly Dollies Investment Club (when Shares were worth some thing. I have enjoyed following and supporting my young grandchildren's hobbies often being a driver for my 12 year old grandaughter who as a competitive swimmer trains 8 times a week (am as well as pm) Being a Spectator for my 11year old Rugby mad playing Grandson and watching my other Grandaughter ride her Horse. Oh I forgot to say I am still teaching swimming to young children and adults on a weekly basis and run the Swim school now in its 29th year.


Ray Wilson from St Albans


Ray’s achievements in retirement are wide and varied and he thoroughly deserves to be a regional winner. He organises and plays in a blues band, has become a teacher, taught himself web design and uses all his skills in various charity kinds of charity work. In addition to all that, he has an incredibly rich and varied family life.

Ray’s energy and obvious enthusiasm shine through and it is wonderful that he uses this energy and enthusiasm not just for his own pleasure but to benefit others, too. His voluntary work with the children at the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban is testament to this. His organisation of, and participation in, his Blues band gives Ray another outlet for his talent and also, in a different way, brings pleasure to lots of people.

Ray is an excellent role model for all retired people and was a worthy regional winner of the LaterLife Challenge for making the most of retirement.


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?

Carol Pullen from Rushden


With the motivation of wanting to meet more people when she was widowed, Carol set about doing just that and now has a very varied and active retirement. For this reason, she is a worthy regional winner of the Laterlife Challenge.

Carol’s list of physical activities, including white water rafting, go-carting, quad biking, learning to sail and many, many more would be daunting for anyone, let alone someone of 50 plus. Undaunted, Carol has thrown herself into these activities and is planning even more.

In addition, Carol is now on the committee of her 50+ adventure Club, sop organises a lot of these activities for the benefit of others. She leads a craft group in her local University of the Third Age (U3A), so she is passing on her skills to other people. With all this and more, together with the realisation that she has to be proactive in order to achieve things in retirement, Carol is a great example of how everyone can make the most of their retirement. As such, she is a worthy regional winner of the LaterLife Challenge for making the most of retirement.


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.

Carol punting

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.

Carol PullenSince 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.

Patricia Kelly from Nelson, Lancashire


Patricia is a wonderful example of how we can all do lots of things to remain active in retirement even if we don’t have huge resources with which to do them.

She does a wide variety of activities to keep physically fit, such as walking, gardening and playing croquet at a local club. She also goes to the gym and does country dancing with her local University of the Third Age (U3A).

To keep her brain active, Patricia goes to lectures at the Cafe Scientifique and is learning Modern Greek, Spanish and Portuguese. Just to prove that she’s a thoroughly modern person, she is an active blogger and has made many friends through that.

Patricia proves that we can have an active and varied retirement whatever our circumstances and is, therefore a very worthy regional winner of the LaterLife Challenge for making the most of retirement.


When I retired 2.5 years ago, I joined the local croquet club at the suggestion of my sister and brother-in-law and play there at least once a week. I also started walking all the local parks and "green spots" on the local map in order to keep active. Now that I have covered all of those and find that I walk less often, I have taken on a share in a friend's allotment and joined a local fitness gym instead.

Last year I joined the local branch of the U3A with a couple of friends and have taken up Art and Country Dancing as regular activities, while occasionally going to the Architecture and Gardening meetings (usually on their trips out). I also go to as many of the outings of the Dalton History Club as I can manage with my friends.

Although I only have a tiny back yard I am a keen gardener and try to fill it with as many pots growing flowers and vegetables as I can. Because I enjoy going to the park at the bottom of my street as often as possible I joined the local Friends group where I became the Secretary and now we have just been awarded the prestigious Green Flag.

To keep my brain active I go to the local Cafe Scientifique club once a month where they have fascinating lectures on a variety of topics and at home I am struggling with keeping up my Modern Greek and also learning Spanish and Portuguese to use when I go abroad. I try to go abroad on holiday at least once a year (altho I haven't made it to anywhere particularly unusual) regarding the challenge of holidaying alone as sufficient challenge. This year I have been to North Portugal and in October I am going to Crete.

When I am not doing any of the above I love to give small dinner parties for my friends or just curl up at home with a good book or my cross stitch.

Some years ago my daughter introduced me to a blog and I keep in touch daily with all the friends I have made on that. Later this year when I have updated the computer I am hoping she is going to get me World of Warcraft so that I can join in playing that with her friends as well.

Best thing I ever did was to retire earlier than planned and start living my life again. And since I have a very small pensionable income and am in receipt of benefits, the above list of activities shows that you don't need a lot of money to be active, involved and enjoying yourself.

Maureen Sommerville from Dudley


Not long before she retired, Maureen got cancer and it is testament to her spirit and determination that she has overcome that and now has a varied and active retirement.

She does yoga and takes it seriously enough to have gained real physical and mental benefits from it. She also does voluntary work for her local Cancer Support group, is a trustee of the group and writes a monthly nutrition article for their magazine. Through Cancer Support Maureen discovered Reiki and was so impressed that she has become a Reiki practitioner herself and does it for her friends and family. She is also learning to play the piano and is working on becoming a better gardener. On top of all that, she has an active social life, being a member of a ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ group, a regular theatre-goer and a keen traveller.

Maureen’s retirement is rich in its mix of activities and she has overcome illness to make it so. She is, therefore, a worthy regional winner of the Laterlife Challenge for making the most of retirement.


I joined a gym when I retired. I was a little nervous because I thought it might be full of young, energetic, toned, beautiful people, but there were plenty of my contemporaries of all shapes sizes and levels of fitness, or otherwise. I had a go at various classes and really loved yoga -though at times, as my muscles protest at being stretched, I have to remind myself that I do enjoy it! I have remastered the art of standing on my head (at one time the only one in the class who could, and we're not all retired), and am currently trying to achieve balancing when doing a handstand. Besides those showy-offy things though I have found many benefits. I am far more flexible, I've built up strength and it has given me a great sense of well being.

I had cancer not long before I retired and received help and support from our local Cancer Support group, so after retiring I started to do some voluntary work there to try and help others in the situation I had been in. I'm now a Trustee of the group and also write a nutrition article in the bimonthly newsletter. I had decided to become very proactive about my health after the sledgehammer treatment of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and drugs (hence joining the gym), and nutrition interested me greatly, as well as tying in nicely with my love of cooking.

I tried the complementary therapy, Reiki at Cancer Support and found it very beneficial. In fact I was so impressed with its efficacy that I learnt to be a Reiki practitioner myself. I do Reiki for friends and family and for myself.

I'm learning to play the piano and I'm learning how to be a gardener - the first with a teacher, the second through trial and error! I adore spending time with my grandchildren. I love having time to read and to do the crossword. I have become 'a lady who lunches' and it is so good to have a leisurely 2 or 3 hours with old friends. I love to travel and to go to the theatre. In fact I think retirement is BRILLIANT and can't think why I had never looked forward to it. Long may it last!

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 Previous Winners

Challenge winners 2

Challenge winners 3

Click below for more retirement examples in entries to the LaterLife Challenge:

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


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