‘Reach­ing 65 is seen as a time for new be­gin­nings’

Re­tire­ment doesn’t have to mean stop­ping work. Jane Slade meets the pen­sion­ers who are still blaz­ing a trail in their ca­reers, from a baroness to a dance teacher

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Retirement -

Even though she turns 81 in Au­gust, re­tire­ment isn’t some­thing on Baroness Mar­garet Prosser’s radar. She is one of a grow­ing work­force of over-65s who re­fuses to re­tire. “Pol­i­tics has been my life and still is,” says the Labour peer, who trav­els to the House of Lords four days a week and sits as chair of the In­dus­try and Par­lia­ment Trust, a char­ity. She’s not the only one; the aver­age age in the Lords is 69.

Lady Prosser was draw­ing at­ten­tion to the gen­der pay gap back in 1999, and has oc­cu­pied such top po­lit­i­cal posts as na­tional trea­surer of the Labour Party.

“I think older peo­ple can con­trib­ute a lot, and you can see it in the House of Lords,” she says. “I am much older than many mem­bers but younger than lots.

“Older peo­ple ben­e­fit from mix­ing with young peo­ple, too. Not only do they keep you up to speed in us­ing an iPad, but are en­thu­si­as­tic and cheery. They keep me young.”

The doughty peer’s only con­ces­sion to “the R-word” is that she has bought a two-bed­room apart­ment in a Churchill Re­tire­ment de­vel­op­ment, Greenacres Lodge, in War­ling­ham, Sur­rey.

“I did ev­ery­thing back to front,” she ex­plains. “I used to own a flat in Hove and a flat in Lon­don and sold them to buy a big­ger house, which was half­way be­tween where my two daugh­ters live.” She calls it her “mad house”. “I got back ache main­tain­ing it – sweep­ing the pa­tio, do­ing the gar­den,” she ex­plains. “It was crazy. Then I was aware of a re­tire­ment de­vel­op­ment be­ing built next door, and de­cided to buy the two-bed­room show flat.”

Now she has stopped driv­ing, she takes the bus. There’s a stop right out­side Greenacres, to ei­ther San­der­stead or East Croy­don sta­tions, where she can catch the train into Lon­don. “I have peace of mind liv­ing here. I don’t have to worry that I haven’t paid the cleaner or for­got­ten to lock the back door.

“Every­one is re­ally friendly, too. I came back early from a shop­ping trip the other day and about eight ladies were sit­ting in the own­ers’ lounge.”

Lady Prosser, who brought up three chil­dren after her late hus­band was paral­ysed due to ill­ness, ad­mits she is lucky to be able to af­ford a re­tire­ment prop­erty.

“The vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple here have down­sized and sold their houses for more than they have had to pay for one here,” she ob­serves.

“There’s a lot more that can be done for peo­ple who can’t af­ford these kind of houses; a bit of pub­lic in­vest­ment would be a good thing. I am very for­tu­nate but not every­one is.” Churchill Re­tire­ment’s Lau­rel Lodge near War­ling­ham in Car­shal­ton has one and two-bed­room apart­ments priced from £299,950.

A Govern­ment re­port in Septem­ber showed that the num­ber of over-65s work­ing in the UK has quadru­pled in the past 20 years – from 272,000 in 1997 to 1.2mil­lion peo­ple.

Ac­cord­ing to a Which? re­port last month some 32 per cent of those work­ing be­yond state pen­sion age are self­em­ployed, com­pared with 13 per cent of younger work­ers, while a re­port by in­surance gi­ant Le­gal & Gen­eral found that of the “last-time buy­ers” who are work­ing, one in five is in a higher man­age­rial or pro­fes­sional oc­cu­pa­tion.

Low in­ter­est rates, the demise of fi­nal salary pen­sion schemes, and rises in the state pen­sion age are all thought to have con­trib­uted to­wards peo­ple de­lay­ing re­tire­ment. Ex­perts an­tic­i­pate that work­ing be­yond the age of 70 will soon be­come the norm.

Re­tire­ment house­builders are re­act­ing to this trend by tweak­ing their prod­uct to en­tice buy­ers who refuse to re­tire.

“We’ve de­signed our re­tire­ment com­mu­ni­ties to sup­port peo­ple hop­ing to pur­sue a wide range of goals,” says Jane Barker, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Brio Re­tire­ment. “This in­cludes good trans­port links, shared com­mu­nal ar­eas which can eas­ily serve as cowork­ing spa­ces or meet­ing ar­eas, and good Wi-Fi for peo­ple work­ing from the com­fort of their own home.

“The rooms in our com­mu­nity hub and brasserie are also ideal for meet­ings or larger events.” Brio Chapel­ton, for the over-55s, will be a com­mu­nity of 94 one and twobed­room cot­tages and apart­ments near Aberdeen, with prices start­ing from £242,000, and will open next year. Phase one of Brio’s Stow-on-the-Wold vil­lage in Glouces­ter­shire is set for com­ple­tion in spring 2019.

Hi­lary Bruce-Jones is waltz­ing through her re­tire­ment teach­ing ballroom danc­ing. Bruce-Jones, 74, a for­mer dancer, works part time for Dance Rhythms in Ox­ford. “Danc­ing has al­ways been a pas­sion of mine right from when I was a young child,” she says.

Bruce-Jones bought a one-bed­room apart­ment at Re­nais­sance Re­tire­ment’s Fleur-de-Lis in Abing­don last year. “I’ve taught for many years. Ballroom danc­ing re­ally took off when Strictly Come Danc­ing started and we are at our busiest dur­ing the se­ries,” she says. One and two-bed­room prop­er­ties are avail­able at nearby Fleur-de-Lis de­vel­op­ment in Wan­tage, Ox­ford­shire, from £250,000.

At Re­nais­sance’s Fleur-de-Lis de­vel­op­ment in Rom­sey, Hamp­shire, Mar­garet Monger raises a wry smile at the men­tion of the word “re­tire­ment”. She works as a ge­neal­o­gist, and trav­els up to the Col­lege of Arms in Lon­don.

“I’ve loved my work; why should I give it up?” says the 89-year-old, who has bought a one-bed­room apart­ment with bal­cony.

“I still go up to Lon­don on the train to meet peo­ple and do some re­search. I’ve been do­ing it for 40 years and don’t want things to change.” Homes at Fleur-de-Lis Marl­bor­ough, Hamp­shire cost from £295,000. Mc­Carthy & Stone, the big­gest re­tire­ment house­builder, re­ports an in­crease in the num­ber of buy­ers work­ing after re­tire­ment age.

“In­creas­ingly we’re find­ing that a num­ber of our home­own­ers in their 60s and 70s are work­ing in re­tire­ment. Some are do­ing this in or­der to sup­ple­ment their pen­sion in­come, and oth­ers for the fun and sense of achieve­ment,” says David Bridges, group sales di­rec­tor.

“We also know of a num­ber of

Ex­perts an­tic­i­pate that work­ing be­yond the age of 70 will soon be­come the norm

‘Some are work­ing to sup­ple­ment their pen­sion in­come or for a sense of achieve­ment’

home­own­ers that do vol­un­teer work.”

Fa­ther Roys­ton Davis was or­dained an Angli­can vicar in the Fifties, then be­came a Catholic priest in 2002. He is now 84 and as­sists with ser­vices at St Ge­orge’s and St Teresa’s churches in Taun­ton, not far from his two-bed­room Mc­Carthy and Stone apart­ment at Lock House.

“I want to con­tinue work­ing for as long as I can, as there is still a need,” says Davis, whose wife of 64 years died just four days be­fore they were due to move into the apart­ment. “It was the right thing mov­ing to Lock House. I have had sup­port from the church, res­i­dents and staff in the de­vel­op­ment.”

The priest also con­ducts spir­i­tual guid­ance ses­sions twice a week help­ing parish­ioners over­come ill­ness and bereavement.

“I have found work very ful­fill­ing and as long as I am given the strength I will carry on,” he says.

“I plan to take pil­grim­ages in May and Septem­ber to Lour­des in France and con­tinue cov­er­ing for other priests in the dio­cese when asked.” Lock House in Taun­ton, Som­er­set, which has as a rooftop ter­race and well-be­ing suite has one and two-bed­room apart­ments for sale priced from £214,950.

One en­ter­pris­ing re­tire­ment house­builder is pro­mot­ing net­work­ing among res­i­dents who re­gard re­tire­ment as a job op­por­tu­nity. James Cobb of In­spired Vil­lages says that the com­pany, which is owned by Le­gal & Gen­eral, is start­ing a club for res­i­dents to find out about paid and vol­un­tary em­ploy­ment op­tions in the lo­cal area.

“For many of our res­i­dents, reach­ing 65 is seen as a time for new be­gin­nings. Whether this is start­ing paid work in a new field, vol­un­teer­ing to giv­ing back to so­ci­ety, tak­ing an ed­u­ca­tional course, or sim­ply spend­ing time fo­cus­ing on hobbies, gone are the days where re­tire­ment was syn­ony­mous with do­ing noth­ing,” ex­plains Cobb.

At a de­bate on ways to en­joy get­ting older, he adds that “the gen­eral con­sen­sus was that hap­pi­ness comes from pos­i­tiv­ity, achieve­ment, in­ter­gen­er­a­tional in­volve­ment, so­cial­is­ing, health, well-be­ing, and giv­ing back. We are start­ing an ‘In­spired Club’ to fo­cus on all of these el­e­ments, many of which can be achieved through con­tin­ued work in re­tire­ment.”

PLUSH LIV­ING Baroness Prosser out­side Par­lia­ment, main; Brio’s Chapel­ton de­vel­op­ment, right

STEP TO IT Hi­lary BruceJones, a dance teacher, with her stu­dent, Alan Sharpe

LUX­U­RI­OUS Re­nais­sance Re­tire­ment’s flats near Wan­tage, above; Brio’s Stow-on-theWold vil­lage, be­low

A NEW CHAP­TER Fa­ther Roys­ton Davis, right; Brio’s Chapel­ton de­vel­op­ment, be­low; Re­nais­sance Re­tire­ment’s homes in Marl­bor­ough over­look a bowl­ing green, bot­tom

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