Exploring Retirement


Welcome to the March 2014 edition of Exploring Retirement. Each month we provide articles on well-being in retirement and also feature activities to explore.

Last month we looked at how this generation of highly educated and/or experienced retirees can use the skills they have honed over a life time, to mentor others who are just starting out. This month we are looking at opportunities to use the wisdom that comes only from experience to carry out the considerable responsibilities of public appointments. These positions may appeal most to those who have held responsible positions in the past or who feel a strong drive to make a contribution to society in their retirement.

Feedback from readers is welcomed. Please let us know your thoughts on using your knowledge, skills and experience to make a difference. E-mail your comments to editor@exploringretirement.co.uk

Family Matters

Congratulations to Michael on becoming a grandfather, not once but twice in February. Michael has one daughter based in the North of Scotland and another in Germany, so he and his wife have just been on a Grand Baby Tour, no doubt the first of many! Closer to home my wife and I travelled to Portsmouth for our youngest daughter's wedding. It was a lovely relaxed day with family and friends and we were delighted to see her and Neal so happy together.

High achievers and retirement

In 1981 an interesting study on retirement appeared in the International Journal of Ageing and Human Development. A large study for the time, it looked at 1571 retirees and divided them into four groups. In descending order of size they were classified as -

The Reorganiser group had overall the highest level of education, retirement income and health. They were mostly employed in senior management positions before they formally retired. They appeared to have the freedom to find new ways to occupy their time (mostly working as volunteers). They had wanted to retire because it provided an enjoyable opportunity to begin a new pattern of activities.

In her 2004 book, Retire Smart Retire Happy, Professor Nancy Schlossberg also attempted to fit retirees into a number of categories. One group in particular she called Adventurers, defined as retirees who move in new directions, whether paid or unpaid.

Whatever name we choose to call them, it would seem that there is a sizeable group of people who, though retired, feel a need to continue to use their skills and talents to a high degree. These people are looking for opportunities to continue to contribute to society, perhaps in a completely different sphere than the one they were in previously. One possible outlet for their energy and drive might be in the area of public appointments.

Public Appointments

Public appointments in England are the responsibility of the Cabinet Office. These positions include appointments to the boards of museums and art galleries, key regulatory bodies such as the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and advisory bodies such as the Low Pay Commission. Within the National Health Service there are opportunities to serve on the boards of the various health service trusts.

The web site for public appointments in England is http://publicappointments.cabinetoffice.gov.uk. In Scotland the site is http://www.appointed-for-scotland.org/. For Wales, visit http://wales.gov.uk/about/recruitment/public-appointments/?lang=en and for Northern Ireland take a look at www.nidirect.gov.uk/public-appointments.

An appointee may have responsibility for advising on future strategy and recruiting key staff. They are also expected to hold key staff to account and represent the work and views of the body to government ministers as well as key stakeholders and the wider public.

Normally the duties of a public appointee may involve attendance at board meetings for a few days per month. Obviously some preparation will be needed prior to the meetings, which also needs to be allowed for by anyone considering applying.


Magistrates are volunteers who hear cases in courts in their community. Each case is usually heard by 3 magistrates, including a magistrate who is trained to act as a chairperson. A legal adviser in the court gives advice on the law and makes sure the magistrates follow the right procedures.

To become a magistrate you do not need formal qualifications or legal training. You will receive full training for the role, and a legal adviser is present in court who will help you with any questions you may have about the law. Having the right personal qualities is important. You need to be able to show that you possess an awareness of social issues, that you have a mature understanding of people and have a sense of fairness. You must be a reliable person and committed to serving the community. It is also important that you are able to understand documents, follow evidence and communicate effectively, think logically, weigh up arguments and reach a fair decision.

To apply you have to be under 65. Magistrates must retire at 70 and are normally expected to serve for at least 5 years. You will need to be able to commit to being in court for at least 13 days, or 26 half-days, a year.

Here is a short video that shows how a court is run.

School Governor

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, school governors are members of a school's Governing Body. In state schools they have responsibility for raising school standards through their three key roles of setting strategic direction, ensuring accountability and acting as a critical friend. Governors are responsible for setting the school's policies in relation to the curriculum, admission, pupil discipline and pastoral care. They are also involved in decisions about the school's budget and the selection of both teaching and non-teaching staff. Governors are required to prepare an Annual Report summarising the steps taken by the Board of Governors in the discharge of their functions.

In theory anyone over 18 can be a School Governor. No formal qualifications are required but interest, enthusiasm and commitment are important. To find out more about the role of School Governor you can watch this short video.