In a week’s time I will be trying a new experiment to see if I can help older people in and around Ashford. It’s an Over 50s Fair, which I hope will attract as big a crowd as the Jobs Fair I held earlier in the year at Ashford College.
The Over 50s Fair is taking place at St Mary’s Church in the centre of Ashford on Friday September 21st, from 9.30am to mid-day. We will be reflecting the diversity of interests, needs, and issues affecting this ever-growing age group with a big range of stalls.
I hope that those who come to the Fair will find a wide range of useful advice and information covering community activities, healthy living, job opportunities, continuing education and volunteering schemes. One of things I have learned in setting up the Fair is the extraordinary range of organisations who cater for the needs of the over-50s in Ashford, and we are cramming as many as we can into St Mary’s Church so that all who attend will find something to interest them.
This range is of course indicative of how life is changing for those over 50. As we all live longer, the old idea that by the time you are approaching 60 you need to think only about retirement and how you will spend your last decade or so is not just out of date but positively harmful.
There is an increasing amount of evidence that maintaining interests, and developing new ones, is the best way to enjoy a long, healthy, and productive old age. Whether this means working for longer, as many now do, or perhaps combining part-time work with a new hobby or volunteering activity, getting out and about is the key.
This is why it is such good news that there are many opportunities to do exactly that in Ashford. I have been heavily influenced by a wonderful book called “The 100-Year Life”, by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, which sets out the personal choices we all have to make to cope with living longer, some of which have to be taken at relatively early stages of our lives.
If you can please come along to the Fair next Friday. It’s free, and I am sure you will find something that excites your interest. I look forward to seeing you there.