Recently I was asked where it all began. I used to say at HSBC with the Future of Retirement programme however thinking about it, my interest in living longer started much earlier.
After graduating I worked for a computer company. They made those huge beasts of machines that ran the DVLA and Inland Revenue – but would only run smoothly for just a few hours before an engineer was needed. Over the next five years these machines’ reliability increased from a few hours to a few months between faults and the company was left with over 5000 long serving, highly skilled engineers whose services were simply no longer required.
As a young Personnel Officer my job was to talk to them about taking retirement. When I asked one man what he planned to do after 30 years of service he answered ‘play golf’. I asked what else and he said ‘play more golf’. Well then, I said, I’m not prepared to offer you early retirement. All hell broke out and the union rep demanded a meeting. There I explained that I was confident the man would play golf every day for the first week but on Wednesday of week two it might start to rain and he would decide to give golf a miss. He would then sit in a chair with nothing to do and I was concerned that he would never get up again. The rep saw the point and agreed. A few days later I met the man again and he too understood and had re-thought his plans – he got his offer. Word soon got around that the company really did care about these engineers who were busy planning for a whole new stage of life. Since then I have always talked to people, of all ages, about what next.
At some stage Death will call for us all, my goal is to ensure that when this happens Death finds someone who is still busy enjoying life!