Retirement – To Fear Or Look Forward To?

I retired from the Fire Service in 2008 at the age of 52 (well, just before my 53rd birthday actually) after having completed just over 34 years of operational service, all of them spent at the sharp end ‘on the pumps’. I ended up as a watch manager in charge of two full-time appliances and a watch of eleven personnel. I have to say I enjoyed every minute of my time in the Fire Brigade, the work was interesting, exciting, and unpredictable. You never knew where you were going to be and what you were going to be doing from one shift to another. One minute you might be sitting in the mess room having a cup of tea and the next the alarms sounded and you were on your way to an incident. It was a fantastic job and I considered myself very lucky to have found a job that I absolutely loved (not many people can say that), and I never got up in the morning with the dread of having to go to work. Like everything though, it wasn’t perfect and it did have its downsides, and over the years I was called upon to have to do some awful things. My worst incident was attending an accident where two of my firefighter colleagues were killed when their appliance overturned en route to an incident and I was part of one of the crews that was sent to release them from the wreckage, a terrible thing to have to deal with and also to have to come to terms with.

But, all of this is leading to the point of my article, what happens when you eventually retire? Is it something that you should look forward to with fear and apprehension, or should it be welcomed as something you’ve earned? I think it all depends on the mindset of the individual who is retiring. If you’re a person with a positive disposition, you may view retirement as a new chapter in your life that is opening. If the person has a negative train of thought, you will probably think along the lines of your life is over, and it’s just a question of waiting for God!

My mindset was a positive one, I felt that after 34 years in the Fire Brigade, I’d done my bit and earned my pension. I have lots of things to keep me busy and I am never bored. There is so much out there for people to become involved with, that there is absolutely no excuse for being bored.

In my case, I live on the edge of a Nature reserve and I am voluntary Warden for Natural England. I edit the National Association of Retired Firefighters magazine NARF News, which is interesting and keeps me busy and I also run the Durham branch of NARF. I am a Magistrate, which again is incredibly interesting and I also have a little part time job delivering prescriptions a couple of days a week for a local pharmacy, which gives me a little extra income to help pay for holidays etc. and finally, I am really interested in music and I play the saxophone, which I find is a great stress release and if I’ve had a bad day, I can get one of my saxophones out and just blow my troubles away.

I’m of the school that only boring people are bored and as I said earlier, there’s so much to do out there that no one should ever be stuck for an interest.

My mother is 86 next birthday, she still drives, uses a laptop to email members of the family who live abroad, she goes out to quizzes and dances, she sings in a choir, is involved with local history groups and has joined the U3A (University of the Third Age) which gets members involved in all kinds of interesting activities from country walks to talks and lectures on a vast array of subjects and again, she is never bored. I guess I must be a chip off the old block in that respect!

So just because you retire, it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world or the end of your life, there are so many charitable organisations out there that would welcome you with open arms if you are interested in helping them in some way, because time is the greatest gift that anyone can give to anyone or anything, it’s priceless, so don’t waste it, get involved with something. Don’t let the armchair get you and remember positive actions never came from negative thoughts, think positive and you’ll act positive.

Now get out there and do it!

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