Your age is no barrier to enjoying arts
Former teacher proves he’s a really class act in the culture stakes . . .
● IN the third part of our series looking at what it’s like to grow older in Manchester, the role culture can play in keeping older people active and engaged is examined. Don Berry, 65, a former primary school headteacher, has lived in Withington for more than 40 years and since retiring has been busier than ever. Don is a community champion for the Old Moat estate, a culture champion for Age Friendly Manchester and the president of The Albert Tennis and Bowling Club in West Didsbury. “AS a former teacher it’s probably even more apt for me to say you’re never too old to learn or have new experiences.
“When I retired five years ago I thought I’d finally get to put my feet up and relax – but I’m just so busy I don’t know how I used to fit a job in too.
“I’m lucky to have my family living locally and with three children, five grandchildren and my 88-year-old mother all nearby I now enjoy a lot of quality family time.
“Like many people my age I’ve found myself taking on more family responsibilities – helping out both younger and older generations.
“As a family we’re very lucky to have four generations all living close-by, so we can all support each other. After being a teacher for decades I’ve found it fascinating to find myself becoming a student again and learning new skills.
“This is why I’m about to start training to become a radio presenter for the very first time.
“I’m part of a group of 12 older people that local community radio station All FM are training to become part of a ‘Vintage FM’ team.
“I can’t wait to start broadcasting as it’s important that older people are given a voice and I’m hoping they may even let me play some jazz.
“One of the challenges older people face is social isolation, which can have a detrimental effect on health.
“There are ways to tackle this and I firmly believe culture is one of many ways we can involve and energise older residents.
“That belief motivated me to become a cultural champion for the councilled Age Friendly Manchester programme.
“Since getting involved I’ve had the privilege of working with organisations across the region, including the Halle Orchestra, the People’s History Museum, the Royal Exchange Theatre and the Whitworth Art Gallery,
“Art can be a great way to stimulate conversation and make you think.
“Closer to home I also spend a lot of time working as a community champion for the Old Moat estate in Withington.
“The area has a large number of older residents and the role allows me to meet residents and also housing, health and social care providers to see how we can improve the area for older people.
“Getting involved with the local community can make a real difference to how you feel, no matter how old you are.
“I’d urge everyone to get out and take advantage of the wonderful cultural resources in the city – there really are opportunities for everyone, and age doesn’t have to be a barrier to any of it.”