Ann – Age 82

“I joined different classes and groups when my husband died and it has been a salvation to me. I’m always surprised when people apologise for being elderly, or regard it as a criticism. I always say, any fool can be young, to be old takes a certain amount of endurance.”

I’m a widow who turned to U3A after my husband died and it’s been a great salvation to me, it’s a very easy way to make friends. I was a very conventional 1950s wife, I had a variety of jobs in my lifetime, a bit of teaching, a bit of lecturing, I finished off as a probation officer.

I have 3 children in their 50s. I do other hobbies, I sing quite a bit and I enjoy ukulele class. The episode that made me professionally most delighted was when a tearaway of about 18 gave me a present, which was the knife he was carrying. It was a knuckle-duster with a barb on it and it wasn’t useful for anything other than a weapon and that seemed a very major act on his part. It’s very easy as a probation officer to feel that you’re not having an effect very often, but that was a very concrete example that I might have had an effect on somebody.

You’re not likely to settle down to one career so do essentially what you want, as long as it’s useful, but don’t think too long term. Oddly enough, now I’m retired I like getting up when I want, although I still get up as early as I always have. But it’s nice to think there’s no compulsion. I’m politically very active and I have time for these things now. I’ve had a couple of strokes so I don’t get around as much as I used to but I had a trip to Paris recently. I’m always surprised when people sort of apologise for being elderly or regard it as a criticism. I always say, any fool can be young, to be old takes a certain amount of endurance.