Your age is no bar­rier to en­joy­ing arts

For­mer teacher proves he’s a re­ally class act in the cul­ture stakes . . .

Macclesfield Express - - YOUR PICTURES -

● 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.”

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