Torbay’s stories

By David Gledhill, Marketing and Communications Officer

One of the joys of working for Ageing Well Torbay is the people you get to meet on a daily basis.

In a society which has somehow worked to make older people at best ignored or at worst virtually invisible, I believe a big part of my job is to represent them and bring them back to the fore.

It means that I get to talk to older people about life, and in particular, their lives past as well as the present, and in nearly every case their stories are fascinating.

Who would have thought for instance that the lively woman in her sixties that has a real zest for not just her own life, but the wellbeing of her many friends was once lonely, so much so she thought her life not worth living?

Now her address book is overflowing and she is often the centre of attention in the midst of a crazily busy social life.

What about the man who spent his life as a fisherman working anti-social hours, only to retire and discover that outside his work, he knew no–one.  The community on his doorstep was a mystery to him until he discovered his local Ageing Well community builder.

As a result, he got involved in a gardening project and is now an active member of that community, a voluntary gardener that brings smiles to his neighbours’ faces with his colourful planters – full of flowers put there as much for their benefit as his own.

Or who would have thought that the woman who leads a group of enthusiastic knitters once worked as on the railways as a shunter? Who knew any women once worked as shunters? Certainly not me.

And then there is the beautiful and graceful woman I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing – chatting and reminiscing with is a better way of putting it – is nearing 80 and is a near life-long yoga teacher?

Some of the very best and fittest members of my local canoeing club are way over 50 and spend hours every week passing on their skills to youngsters and with that knowledge comes a wealth of stories and it therefore came as no surprise that I recently learned of an enthusiastic kayaker who still takes to the sea on an almost daily basis in his 80’s.

I am new to Torbay and I have not yet had the chance to meet many people, let alone sit down and talk to them in detail. Some would say I am nosy, but I would say I am both respectful and fascinated and I make no apology for that.

My role as marketing and communications lead at Ageing Well Torbay has put me in touch with a wealth of stories that run the risk of being lost if they are not told, and I am on a mission to make sure that they are neither lost nor untold.

One thing nearly everyone I meet has in common, other than their years over 50 – is a fascinating back story, and the only people that do not realise it is themselves.

I have already lost count of the number of times I have stopped someone mid story to check what they are saying to me is true and it always is, they just don’t realise how fascinating it is to others.

To them it is just their life. It happened to them and they have no idea how special it is, which makes me all the more determined to tell their stories, their hidden histories.

As I am discovering, they are not difficult to find and I am hoping that in response to this piece in this newspaper that more people will come forward with many more.

If you or someone you know is over 50 and has a story they would like to share, then please do get in touch, I can’t wait to speak to them.

You can ring me, David Gledhill on 01803 212638 or drop me an email to

Thank you.