FOUR new Active Retirement groups have been established within the locality recently by resourceful retirees seeking to ensure they get maximum enjoyment from their retirement.
Due to the long waiting lists of some well established groups in the area, proactive retirees took it upon themselves to form new clubs.
I sat down with some of these enthusiastic new Active Retirement Ireland members last week to discuss their newly formed groups and their hopes for the future.
From the level of interest experienced by these new groups, it’s clear that there is a strong desire in the area for all that Active Retirement Ireland offers.
The new groups include Gaultier, Cnoc Buí (Knockboy), Edmund Rice and a yet to be named group which operates out of Waterford Health Park, Slievekeale Road.
Gaultier Active Retirement member Mary Aylward retired 13 years ago.
“For a number of years I’ve been looking to join an Active Retirement group but they are all in Waterford and I wasn’t interested in driving in and out,” she explained.
“I was delighted when I heard there was an Active Retirement group being set up in my area. At the first meeting I went to I knew one person and within half an hour I knew everybody. We asked what people would like to be involved in and the suggestions were absolutely amazing.”
The Gauliter group currently consists of around 17 people.
A committee has been formed and the first official meeting of the group is scheduled for January.
“I have met quite a number of people who have said they can’t wait to join,” said Mary.
Fellow Gaultier Active Retirement member Noel Hearne farmed all his life but decided two years ago that it was time to reduce his workload.
“I did a bit of research to see what I could get involved in. I heard of Active Retirement and I approached a few groups but there were waiting lists,” he explained.
Noel believes everyone who retires should explore the possibility of getting involved with some type of group or organisation.
“It’s a bad policy to do nothing and to just completely retire. You have to keep yourself active in some way and get involved in something,” he said.
Annette Crowley and Lila Kelly are part of the Cnoc Buí (Knockboy) group.
“I had looked at a few Active Retirement groups but they all seemed to have waiting lists,” explained Annette.
“For the last ten years I’ve been taking a group of people walking one day a month. I said to Lila ‘Why don’t we set up our own club?’ We said there was no time like the present so we said we’d meet and about 40 people turned up.”
The Cnoc Buí group hopes to officially register in January.
At their meeting last month, 30 people were in attendance and they currently have 52 names on their list.
“We decided to have a suggestion and comment box so we left a piece of paper on everyone’s seat. Everyone was delighted and had something to say. They enjoyed having an input,” said Annette.
Lila, who retired two years ago after a busy nursing career, said it was difficult to adjust to her new circumstances.
“When you’re working you don’t have a lot of time for social outlets and your friends are mainly around where you work. It’s then difficult to keep up friendships. You can find yourself with not as much activity as you would like to have when you retire,” she said.
“I live in Woodstown and it’s quite remote. During the day you don’t see a lot of people so it’s nice to get to know other people in the area. Our group started around a conversation and moved on from there. It’s an Active Retirement group so we intend to be active. It’s not all about flower arranging. People have suggested we go kayaking!”
Breda Myler and May Doyle are members of the Edmund Rice group.
Breda, who had an alteration business, retired a year and a half ago.
“I was in a hotel where an Active Retirement meeting was taking place. I thought I would love to be involved with something like that to keep me busy because I’m outgoing and chatty,” she explained.
“When the meeting was over I asked if there was room but they apologised and said they had no room for other people. The next week I went out again and there was another Active Retirement meeting and they said they had no room and that there was a list as long as their arm! I then saw an ad about the Edmund Rice group setting up and decided to go along. I’m delighted because I’ve met a lot of people and I like being active.”
May added: “I had no notion of getting involved in a committee. I just wanted to see what it was about but they twisted my arm! We have 122 people signed up at the moment. I have met so many people. I’m enjoying it immensely as it’s great fun.”
May believes more men should get involved with Active Retirement groups.
“They seem to think Active Retirement is women dominated but it’s not. If more men came on board we would have a different perspective on things,” she said.
Chairperson of the South East Region of Active Retirement Ireland Susan O’Connor is delighted to see the emergence of four new local clubs.
“Perhaps we in Active Retirement were not fully aware that there were such long waiting lists. Nobody should have to wait to become a member of Active Retirement. Once we discovered this we thought it was not right. There is room for so many other groups to form,” she said.
“I’m very happy to say that four new groups have come on stream simultaneously. Each group will be different and a reflection of the members and that is marvellous. These groups are in their infancy but I see marvellous times ahead for them.”
Susan added: “Part of Active Retirement’s mission is to advocate on behalf of members. The other part is about coming together and having fun.”
Regional PRO Anita Doyle has just returned from a trip to Killarney with friends from New Ross.
“I went off to Killarney last week with a crowd from New Ross,” she explained.
“I was the only person from Waterford going and there were a few from Dungarvan. It didn’t bother me because I knew all the people so I was never on my own. As a returned emigrant, Active Retirement opened lots of gates for me.”
With the enthusiasm and determination of these retirees, the newly formed groups are certain to enjoy much success!
For more information on Active Retirement Ireland visit www.activeirl.ie.