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Why we won't be retiring from our jobs anytime soon

Giving up a job at 65 isn't for everyone with increasing numbers of us wanting to carry on, as three people tell Stephanie Bell

Published 11/08/2015

Yoga teacher Ann Gorman
Yoga teacher Ann Gorman
Still learning: model agency boss Maureen Martin loves the challenges of work
Musician Alfie Davies

While many of us can't wait to reach retirement age and finally have the luxury of time to ourselves to indulge our hobbies or simply relax, an increasing number of people can't even contemplate coming to the end of their working lives.

Carrying on in employment after 65 is dramatically on the rise in the UK. Hanging up your work gear for good and shuffling off to tend to the garden is now becoming a thing of the past for many.

More than one in three people over state pension age are either still working or plan to take another job when they reach 65.

A recent survey showed that among those who retire then return to work later, nearly one in 20 manage to do it on a better salary than they earned previously, while one in 12 turn entrepreneur and set up their own company.

Some 15% simply stay put in their old job beyond state retirement age, but 21% take up a post elsewhere or plan to in the future, according to the new survey by the Prudential.

The most common reasons given for returning to work were the desire to stay mentally active, followed by a need for extra cash.

For some people, the idea of finishing work is unthinkable and continuing to work on past retirement is now a popular lifestyle choice.

Age NI chief executive, Linda Robinson, says that the removal of the default retirement age in 2011 has enabled many older people to stay in work for longer, on their own terms.

"Personal choice is important at any age and many people in later life are now choosing to keep working for lots of reasons beyond the financial," she says.

"They are continuing to achieve in their role they enjoy their job and want to take the opportunity to remain engaged and active in society through employment.

"Recent research from COPNI revealed that the over-60s in NI will contribute almost £25bn to the economy in the next 50 years through work, volunteering, caring and childcare.

"An emerging older workforce is also challenging engrained stereotypes of older workers when it comes to productivity, health, commitment and flexibility."

We talk to three people who have no intentions of retiring any time soon and who feel blessed to have the health to continue doing what they love best - working.

‘There is still so much that I want to achieve’

Maureen Martin, who runs her own interior design business and model agency, Maureen Martin Model Management, is a self-confessed workaholic who passed the official retirement age some time ago, but has no intentions of slowing down yet. Maureen, from Bangor, is married to Robin, now a retired civil servant, and has three girls, Karen, Tanya and Suzan, as well as seven grandchildren. She says:

I am a few years past retirement and I can't imagine ever not working. Every day for me is still a learning curve. In both my fashion and interior business, I find working with young people keeps me feeling young. They keep me on my toes and you have to be on your toes when you are working with today's youth.

I certainly don't feel old. I suppose I am a workaholic and I do find it hard to take time out. I hope to continue to work for some time yet as I feel there is still so much that I want to achieve.

No two days are the same in my job and I would never be at the point where I feel I know it all.

I still fly to London, both for fashion shows and for my interior design business, to keep abreast of what is happening. I work every day and if I have a show, like I did last night, I could be out until 10pm.

My husband is retired and has his own interests and keeps himself busy and he knows what I am like. I was in this business when I met him and he knows how much I love it.

I think when you stop working and have nothing to do, that's when you grow old. I couldn't imagine it.

At weekends, I like to spend time with my family and help them out and I love going out for meals and enjoy playing the piano.

I've been working since my mid-teens, when I got my first modelling job. I did put my career on hold for a few years in my twenties to have my children and then returned to modelling with the Stella Goddard School of Modelling.

I remember back then that the training in catwalk deportment and photographic modelling was very thorough.

I then went into business myself, opening Stages model agency with Brian Massey back in the 1970s.

The fashion scene in Northern Ireland in the 1970s was much bigger than it is now. We were doing two to three shows a week back then and we were all over the place, it was very vibrant. I did all the stage styling and Brian did the choreography.

When Brian moved to London in the 1990s, I opened my own agency and I have been working hard ever since.

I really couldn't imagine not doing what I love every day."

‘I like to keep my mind active and to keep myself fit’

Ann Gorman, who is married to Trevor and lives in Belfast, has continued to run her own marketing company part-time, several years beyond retirement age. A mum of two grown-up children and two grandchildren, she also teaches yoga. She says:

I was lucky that I was self-employed, so when I reached the official retirement age, it gave me the option to work on, which is something I know you don't often get if you are in a workplace. I know I am very lucky that I had that option.

The business was going well and my customers were happy and I just didn't see any reason to stop working.

I had friends who had the option to take redundancy at 50 and jumped at it and within a few years they were bored and having to reinvent themselves in terms of work.

I'm doing less of the marketing, though, to concentrate on teaching yoga and I take about six classes a week.

Yoga can be a complementary career and can sit well with a full-time profession.

I have always kept busy. I set up Ann Gorman Marketing in 2000 and had some big campaigns.

I was also a mentor for Invest NI in their trade and marketing scheme for 12 years and I am president of the Belfast Boat Club.

That's an unpaid role and I am enjoying working out my term.Reaching retirement age wasn't a landmark for me as I didn't feel that I should stop working. I was doing something that I enjoyed.

One of the main benefits of being self-employed is that you can manage your own time. I wasn't stuck in the 9-5 world.

It also gave me the freedom to take two years to study to be a yoga teacher.

I also enjoy travelling and my grandchildren live in London, so I like to get over there as often as I can.

I feel blessed that I am able to share the gift of such a wonderful discipline as yoga. It is not just about physical exercise, but it is good for your mind and it pushes back the ageing process.

To be able to share that great gift as a yoga teacher is something I enjoy. I like to keep my mind active and keep myself fit. The government buzz words now are all about keeping moving no matter what age you are and yoga helps me to do that.

As a teacher, I have to keep practising and going to classes myself, so I get to be on both sides of the mat.

I have worked since I was 16 and I suppose continuing now is also to do with having a strong work ethic. I couldn't imagine not working. The only break I have had was when I was having my children. Back then, you had no choice but to leave work and when I had my first child I had to give up a great job.

I realise that not everyone has the luxury of being self-employed and I know if I was still in the workplace of some of the jobs I've done in the past, I would have been looking forward to leaving at retirement age.

Retirement just isn't for me and I am blessed to have my health. One day, hopefully, I will be able to give work up, but I would need a routine, I can't imagine just sitting with my feet up."

'I'm fortunate to have my health and my music'

Newtownabbey grandfather Alfie Davies (68) embarked on a whole new career when he retired early from his job as a finance officer with the NHS six years ago. A passionate musician, Alfie teaches at the Lisburn School of Music and has just recently signed a publishing deal with the hope of carving out a new business, recording music for film and TV. He says:

I've always liked to keep busy and when I was 31, I studied part-time for a degree in sociology, while also working full-time. I've worked in finance most of my life and retired from the health service when I was 62. My passion is music and before I retired, I taught music part-time and played in a band in local pubs and clubs.

Unless you are really famous, music is an industry in which you will not make a lot of money. It's only since I retired that I have been able to make it my job. I teach the mandolin, banjo, guitar and ukulele in Lisburn School of Music and also tutor privately.

Until recently, I also played in the band Easy Feeling. I like a challenge and I have started to teach myself to play the violin. It is a different sort of challenge because, while it is still a string instrument, it is so different from the other instruments I play.

I also play in my local church band in Newtownabbey Congregational.

I didn't start playing the guitar until I was 20. I worked with local singer Crawford Bell, who brought his guitar into work and taught me my first few chords, and after that, it became a passion.

I recently went into a local recording studio and recorded some instrumental music of my own.

I am hoping it might be of interest for TV ads or small films. That's something new and in the very early stages, but I hope to continue it.

I kept myself fit with cycling and the gym when I was younger, which is why I believe I enjoy good health now. I feel fortunate to have it and my music.

I think for a lot of people, all they have is their work. When they retire, there is nothing and they can feel a bit lost.

It is important to at least have a hobby and I feel lucky that I have mine and that I can work as well. I couldn't imagine doing nothing all day or spending my time sitting in front of the TV.

There is nothing wrong with watching TV, but all day, every day just doesn't appeal to me.

I also have my two children, my two grandsons and another grandchild on the way, so life is good."

Belfast Telegraph

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