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Community and Events Manager, Abbie spoke to Mirthy member, Anna to talk retirement, life during the pandemic, and what she thinks about Mirthy...


What did you do prior to retirement?

I had many different careers. I started off as a science teacher, then I worked for a scientific equipment company on the technical sales side; then I was a pharmaceutical and diagnostic buyer and hospital contracts administrator; I then owned my own convenience store for a number of years; then I became a school bursar because my bent is still towards education and “sums” basically; and then, when I moved back to my home time some years ago, I took a lower powered type of job just in office administration at an environmental education centre locally. And I’ve been a mum in between that as well - still am!

What do you enjoy the most about retirement?

It was slightly enforced as I was retired on grounds of ill health. So it took a few years, but once I got to grips with the problems, I was able to enjoy retirement a lot more. My late partner and I, we travelled a lot, enjoyed cooking, gardening, lots of things - many different hobbies. I started doing family trees many years ago. That was all, of course, pre-pandemic!

Had you tried these activities previously?

The family trees I started in the 1990s - just my own family tree to start with - and then the detective brain in me started to look at other people’s family trees, and it’s gone on from there. I’ve done 100s of them, and I also do historical research for the local civic society - I’ve written reports for them. And I like it when it all comes together. I’ve found a few skeletons! A few scandals!

What have you found hardest about the pandemic?

After I lost my partner, my 90-year young auntie suggested I join the U3A. I did that and it gave me a social life and got me out and about meeting people again. Just trying to create a new life for myself. And of course, when the pandemic hit, it stopped all of that - all the U3A activities, my day trips out, even my little holidays and socialising. I think the thing to say is when my ill-health issues started, part of the recovery process was to be out and about to regain confidence and I got to grips with that in the main and then the pandemic stopped it all - the social integration.

What does your typical day look like?

The best way to answer that question is to say that my life was very different pre-pandemic, and a typical day now is much quieter, but I keep busy. I’m slowly trying to get back out there, but I’m having a few difficulties.

How would you describe Mirthy to a friend?

For me, when my U3A actually stopped functioning and before we managed to get Zoom meetings going, Mirthy provided me with a wonderful distraction from the pandemic which I found very, very helpful. Otherwise, you’re just surrounded by it so it was nice to have speakers and activities - the sorts of things I used to do with my U3A - and obviously, as time has gone on, you’ve increased the range of events that you show. So for me, it’s been a very useful thing to have during the pandemic and even now things are getting easier, I still intend to continue with it. It gives you a bit of structure and I think that’s important as well- to have things in your diary. And there’s some really good talks and some great events!

Do you have a favourite event?

Because I used to travel a lot, I do like those types of talks from Mirthy. And especially the illustrated ones which allow me to imagine I’m on holiday somewhere. Particularly with some of the wonderful photographs that the presenters have taken. I also enjoy talks about specific subjects as they’re very interesting. Something I’ve never considered before - coffee beans or nursery rhymes! But I suppose the travel ones were the ones that attracted me initially.

Do you do any other events with Mirthy?

I’ve done some of the cooking demonstrations with Kitty. Those have been nice - I’ve always enjoyed nutrition and cooking and trying new ingredients and recipes and so the cooking ones have been good.

What keeps you coming back?

It’s a nice regular diary event for me and you just forget about all the problems that are going on, and you learn something which is important for me. I enjoy learning about new things.

What three words would you use to describe Mirthy?

Interesting, informative, (am I only allowed three words?!) and friendly.

What would you say to someone wondering whether to book?

Give it a go! Absolutely! And you’ll get hooked! Especially if you find after the first event you attend you think “oh my goodness- this is really good”, you will get hooked! I have- and I’ve been doing this over a year now. And you might learn something too!

Any final thoughts?

I think it’s great that you’re expanding in different areas. I’ve advocated Mirthy right from day 1 and I think it’s wonderful. As I say, it was the U3A that suggested it initially and then you started up the facility where we can book in ourselves. And it’s nice that there are people from all around with the chat at the beginning with people saying where they’re from - you feel part of this community, which is lovely. So keep up the good work! I’m a firm convert!

Anna has a detective brain by her own admission, wanting to find out new facts and understand more about different events and people. Along with Travel Ted, who has his own passport, she has been on many adventures around the world herself. She is also fantastic at answering fellow Mirthy members’ technology queries in the Facebook group.