Why Steve is #AgeProud
"You do get reflective when you think about retirement, and about your kids and grandkids. I have all these special skills and I don’t want to lose them, but now I can help my kids set up their homes, helping with practical stuff and passing these skills on."
Steve, East Sussex, explains how a near fatal injury changed his career path, becoming a kiting enthusiast and how to fight negativity.
All my working life I’ve always tried to do a job that’s positive for other people.
I coordinate Starfish, a youth music project that empowers 130 young people to express themselves and gain skills. Previously, I was a lead youth worker delivering music across East Sussex, and when services got cut we decided to carry on. This is my 21st year on the project.
I had a difficult start in life, but got into music through the choir at the Church of England care home I grew up in in South London. At 21 I got my own instrument and have played ever since. The most enlightening thing for me was living abroad playing in a band in Denmark in my twenties. The great thing about music is it can take you to a beach, a hill, somebody’s arms. I think everyone has music, rhythm in them.
I went on to gain skills in sound studios and worked my way up. Unfortunately then I was stabbed in the head and lost 80% of my hearing in one side. I still have nerve damage down one side. This ended my plans to become a big LA producer, but it set me on a different path of working with thousands of young people. This wasn’t as financially rewarding but has been rich in other ways – I don’t think I would have had the journey in life I’ve had. Seeing the benefits of your work in other people is very liberating.
The chances of me seeing 65 are very good but who knows about 75? So I thought I’d take semi-retirement now. I’ll still work weekends and Mondays. I’ll be taking a back seat. I’ll be like the old caretaker, I’m going to get myself a brown coat!
Going from 60-70 hours a week to 18 hours is going to be a shock! It’s got me thinking about what I’ll do with the four days I’m not working, I’m thinking I’ll strategise at bit so I can have the kind of lifestyle I want.
I’ve supported others with music all my life so now’s my time to do my own thing so I’m looking forward to working with a singer.
My other big passions are kiting - it gets me out in the fresh air exploring the country. And I can’t live without dancing, it’s another way to release the soul.
You do get reflective when you think about retirement, and about your kids and grandkids. I have all these special skills and I don’t want to lose them, but now I can help my kids set up their homes, helping with practical stuff and passing these skills on. My biggest hope is to carry on learning.
Every day is a birthday! Having quite a hard upbringing in a home has taught me to fight negativity. Even in the harshest times, life has always been a gift. I’m really proud that I could quite easily have gone in a different direction. I have a warm feeling that I’ve tried to do my best for myself and those around me.
I’ve often thought about the closing moments of my life, and I strongly believe my whole life will seem just like an instant. The veil beyond the other side concerned me when I was younger but doesn’t now. I’m intrigued, mystified, because you can only go back to where you came from.
I’m quite happy! I feel this is my time now. It does feel like an autumn, but a warm autumn, not a cold winter! Autumn is my favourite time of year. The leaves are turning, it’s mellow.