Jean and Barry – Age 76 and 77

“Now we are in our 70s we have the freedom to do what we want and to make the most of this we need to keep active. We have been married for 56 years and have always been good friends. We do a lot of things together including swimming in the sea, badminton and walking. We even go to Asda together!”

I’m a retired hairdresser and I’m 77 years old. I have six grandchildren, three daughters and one great grandson. I enjoyed all aspects of hairdressing. I loved it. I liked mixing with people, chatting – I loved doing that. The most memorable thing that happened at work, was falling down the stairs and having to go to hospital. I was going to do Marguerite Patton’s hair – she was a cook on the television. She didn’t get her hair done that morning at 9 o clock. She was going up to London to do a radio show on the television. I was going to do her hair at 9 o clock and I was rushing to get down and I fell down the stairs and ended up in the Hove General, which isn’t a hospital any more, it’s a block of flats. So, I suppose that’s the most memorable really.

Also, when my boss first started work, he used to do the hair of this really old film star, whose name I can’t recall. She was very eccentric. I can’t think of her name.

Some words of wisdom I would give to the younger generation is always think well of yourself. Say to yourself that you can do things. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do things. Tell yourself you can do things and then get on and do them.

I’ve been playing badminton probably for five years. My favourite thing about playing badminton is the exercise, I suppose. I didn’t think I would be able to do it but I’m doing alright. I just like all of it really.

The key part of keeping our marriage together – we’ve been married for 56 years – we’ve always been good friends and we’ve always done things together. A lot of our married friends have always had separate things that they’ve did. We’ve always done everything together.

At age 76, we try to keep as active as possible. We belong to U3A, obviously, and most of our activities are centred around the U3A. We’re part – I’m saying we, because my wife and I are around the same sort of age, and we do the same things – so we belong to the Strollers Group, which meets every Tuesday and does a cross-country walk of about 4 or 5 miles. We also belong to the lunch clubs, which meet to eat at different places. We also do the health walks on a Monday, down at Preston Park, which is a very social thing. The other thing which I do is indoors and outdoors bowling. I belong to the Preston Club which is opposite Preston Park.

The other thing that we’re involved in is we like to swim as much as possible. Get in the sea as much as possible, if you call it swimming, because the waves were so high – they were breaking and buffing – hence, when you went down you got knocked back. Activity-wise, that’s mainly most of what we do. So that’s Mondays – health walk, Tuesdays – cross-country walk, Wednesdays – badminton, Thursdays – Asda shopping and Friday I bowl. Then the weekend we have with family. We’ve got three daughters, six grandchildren (four boys, two girls), and we have one great grandson, who’s three.

I used to be an engineering manager, working for a company called AMP, which meant that I travelled around on design projects, going in and out of different companies and picking up projects from a big company, a multibillion dollar company. So, I would take a team into a company and carry on a project and design stuff. A lot of it is large companies, also aerospace and stuff like that. I retired when I was 56, which I’m very pleased about. I’ve been retired for 20 years now. I’ve never regretted a minute of it at all, because we keep active.

My favourite part of the job was meeting the different people in different companies. I travelled all over the south of England mainly. I went into different companies at different times and you build up relationships with design engineers and production engineers, and different engineering based people, from shop-floor people right up to managing directors and corporate. Very interesting and you got to see them on a fairly regular basis. If they had a problem, they would phone you up and I would go and visit them. So I used to work from home.

If I could give any words of wisdom to the younger generation it would be to keep active.

My favourite thing about being retired is having the freedom to do what we want, when we want. That’s why we’ve got this regime of doing Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays – we’re doing something which keeps things moving. Then at weekends, if it’s nice, we will try and enter into the sea in the summer months when it’s warm. We do go into the pool occasionally. When I first packed up we used to go to the Esporta Club, which is now called Virgin Fitness, who Julia belongs to and is the badminton coach for. We used to go there three times a week. We used to do gym work. We used to do tennis and we used to swim and go to the sauna. That was us in the early stages of retirement. That eventually became very expensive for the two of us – we joined U3A and we carried on a similar mode of life really, trying to keep as active as we possibly can.

I picked up badminton four years ago. I’m saying four years ago, time passes so quickly! I think it was about four years ago. We started off down at the church hall, which is where we have our meetings. Because we got a lot of interest and the section grew, we had to go into the leisure centre, because we needed three courts. We’ve been playing ever since.

My favourite thing about playing badminton is the social side of it. It’s a very social sort of activity. Although you play to win, that’s not the be-all and end-all of the game. You play to enjoy it. There’s a lot of banter goes on, so that’s what we enjoy. Nobody swears and curses at you because you miss a shot or anything like that. Basically, it’s just come down, enjoy yourself, keep active, keep things moving. If you don’t use it, you lose it.