The Laterlife Challenge
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 ( www.out-of-the-blue.org ).
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 www.kalfest.org.uk
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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!
We'd love to hear how you are spending your later life, whatever
you are doing