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Published: 1 Mar 2018

Older workers and active ageing individual case study

John Hush, 85 Manager of Co-op Funeral Services branch, Berwick upon Tweed (recently retired)

‘I started out on 4thAugust  1948 as a joiner at the Co-op in Berwick upon Tweed and retired the day before my 85th birthday last year working full-time throughout! If I’d continued for another 12 weeks, I’d have worked at the Co-op for exactly 69 years.

A number of us worked at the Co-op Funeral Service for lengthy terms, My colleague Sylvia was here for 45 years and as I’d served 55 years by then – that’s 100 years between the two of us – and the town awarded us with a special civic award and ceremony. We used to joke that the only way to get us out of the job was in a box! In 2008, I received a lifetime achievement award and three years later was made the first honorary Freeman of Berwick upon Tweed in 2011.

In 1948 when I began work aged 16, I was part of a joiners, paint-shop and upholster’s yard and it was our job to work in stores and for the funeral service. I moved over to the funeral side of the business over the years and ended up Manager of the Berwick and Tweed branch.  I was the first person in the Co-op to be kept on over the age of 65 and my job-title could no longer be manager at this point, so they called me a consultant.  In fact I occasionally act as an informal consultant to the new manager, Edward Foxton, who I recruited and trained up to take on my role when I left – he still calls me from time to time.

I loved my job – it became my life – I could be called out all hours of the day and night. I could be playing bowls and have to drop everything. I’m lucky that living in a market town like Berwick upon Tweed, with small market town values, I know a lot of people. The funeral service is a people business and I’ve always enjoyed that.  I’m also fortunate that I have good health.

However, I didn’t look back and miss the job once I retired last year – even though I retired before my son!  I’m always busy, I’ve been a supporter of Berwick Rangers from the age of 11 and been a Director for over 40 years – currently I’m President of the club. Sometimes there’s  just not enough hours in the day.

My advice to anyone staying on longer at work is that you’ve got to want to do the job, enjoy it and have a real interest in it. After all, life doesn’t just stop at 65 – you’d don’t suddenly age overnight. You’re only as old as you feel!’