Try Something New – A Positive Retirement

People have different views on approaching retirement; some tick the days off the calendar, whilst others dread it. A positive attitude is key, so what happens when retirement is forced on you due to circumstances beyond your control?

Valerie Edwards, 69, who lives in Wrexham, North Wales, is married to Barry and has two children and two grand-children. Ill-health forced her to retire earlier than she would have liked.

I went back to college’

Six years ago the stress of my full time job as a Practice Manager was taking its toll on my health. I started taking medication to help me cope, but I hated having to do this, so I gave my boss twelve months’ notice of my intention to retire.

I cried a lot when I first left my job – I’d been doing it for 27 years! It felt like I was grieving. This went on for six months. I missed my colleagues and the patients, my regular routine – not to mention the income. What I did not miss was the work and the stress.

I started doing some voluntary work for a mental health helpline. One day I took a call from a lady who had also decided to retire, but she was not coping. I told her she needed to get herself into a new routine, and to go out and meet people. This is so important. When the call ended I felt exhilarated. Through my own experience, I had been able to help her. However, I was used to dealing with people face-to-face in my old job, and found the anonymity over the telephone frustrating, and so I decided to give the role up.

Over the past couple of years I have been doing free courses run by my local council. I began with Nordic walking, followed by computing, followed by a drawing and watercolour class. I went on to do a course based on the history of my town, and I am currently undertaking another local history course. Because the classes are funded by the council they are accredited, and therefore there is homework to do. I enjoy doing the research on my PC, and at my local museum; I am learning so much.

Now I am very happy I made the decision to retire. My advice is to take each day as it comes and plan tasks to keep yourself occupied and active.

*For information on community courses contact your local council.

Sheila Williams, 66, who lives in a pretty village in Buckinghamshire, is married to Tom. Like Valerie, Sheila has kept active during her retirement. She retired earlier than planned, due to being made redundant.

I volunteered’

A year ago, I was made redundant from my job in a senior role. The organisation was undergoing a restructure at the time, and although I was offered a post in the new structure, I chose to be made redundant. The process was stressful and time consuming, but the outcome was exactly what I wanted. I would not have been able to use my professional skills in the new post, and I was nearing retirement age anyway, so it seemed like the right time to go.

When I left I felt nothing but relief. I was happy – I was free to enjoy life. I still feel the same way now, all these months later.

During the past year I feel I have made the most of my free time. I had been able to spend more time with family and friends. I am a volunteer at The Globe Theatre in London. This involves very basic stewarding, but I do get to see quite a few productions during the season when I am on a position inside the theatre. I have always been interested in the arts, particularly live theatre, and I get a buzz being in London, which is what led to me deciding to volunteer there.

I am also a volunteer at a National Trust property. I have always been interested in social history and I have been a member of the National Trust for years and love visiting their properties. Usually it is as much to see the gardens as the houses and their contents! As a volunteer I welcome people to the property, giving them a brief history of the house, and act as a room guide explaining to visitors the significance of various items and paintings etc. Both of my volunteer positions involved contact with varied groups of people, which is something I would have missed from the role I had when I was working.

As well as volunteering I’ve also continued to run a walking group and I’ve had time to enjoy gardening and needlework. When both The Globe and the National Trust property were closed for the winter season, I started a book club, as well as joining the Bowls Club in the village where I live. And in January of this year I joined a new Pilates class which started in the village. I do this alongside yoga classes, which I have been attending for over 30 years now.

I have no regrets about making myself redundant. It was the right decision for me and I’m pleased I made it. I wouldn’t do anything differently. My advice to others in the same or a similar position would be to stick to your guns!

*For volunteering opportunities in your area go to:

Written by: Helen Edwards

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A freelance writer, originally from North Wales, but currently based in Buckinghamshire. Writes articles and reviews, as well as working on a novel.

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