by Catherine Rickwood

I love long distance train travel.  I love the clickety clack of the wheels on the rails. I love the ever changing, spectacular scenery of the Australian countryside and coast. I enjoy the time to sit and relax. And, I enjoy the people that I meet. Recently I travelled from Sydney to Taree by train. On my return from Taree I met Gail. I was humbled and inspired by her story …

Gail is a South African woman with determination, a willingness to work hard, and a heart as vast and open as the NSW countryside we were traveling through.

As we had time and I always enjoy a chat, Gail shared her story. From the beginning I was engaged and inspired by Gail’s story for three reasons:

  1. It reminded me that age does not limit our ability to create a new life.
  2. Hard work and dedication can create a life and future we would never have envisaged in our 20’s, 30’s or even 40’s.
  3. Our open hearts, willingness to give and share with others, and attitude towards our work and life are really what makes the difference to our lives and homes being filled with warmth, joy and fun surrounded by friends and family, connected to and creating community.

This is the essence of Gail’s story …

Gail and her husband (Ken) migrated to Australia from South Africa when they were in their 50’s. She and her husband had owned a large nursery with over 25 employees, which they sold to come here. They arrived with very little, determined to create a new life.

Prior to leaving South Africa, someone had advised them to work as couriers as this would enable them to see which businesses were succeeding. They took the advice to heart and worked hard as couriers on the NSW north coast, eventually buying their own courier business. Within the first month of ownership they experienced a huge loss (in excess of $30,000) – not what they’d expected or planned for. However, through sheer hard work and determination Gail and Ken turned the business around, ultimately selling it to buy a coffee shop in a shopping mall.

Again, Gail & Ken worked hard in their coffee shop, creating a successful business that appealed to older visitors. In time, they sold this business to fulfil Ken’s dream of owning a farm.

Today, they are the proud owners of a Bonsmara beef stud. Gail and her husband continue to work hard, running the farm on their own.  Gail writes a regular blog about  their life on the farm and amongst other things volunteers at the local primary school, assisting with reading and craft. Each blog piece is accompanied by witty cartoons and an expression of gratitude for something in her life.

Like Gail, I would never have envisaged the life I currently lead when I was in my 20’s, 30′, or 40’s. A life committed to researching, writing, blogging, and speaking about the possibilities and positives associated with becoming older. It’s hard work that I love.

And you? What are you doing today that you’d never have predicted when you were younger?

Finally, inspired by Gail …

I’m grateful for: Dear friends and family who support me in all aspects of my life, particularly my work.






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About the Author

Catherine Rickwood

An experienced researcher and business executive, Catherine's work is informed by academic knowledge and evidence to deliver practical actions with measurable outcomes. These combined skills create a powerful and useful ability to delve deep on issues, ask incisive questions, think laterally, and bring knowledge and insights to individuals, a team, and an organisation keen to engage with, and include the over 50's as a valuable part of their business strategy.

Catherine Rickwood is solutions-focussed, working with innovative organisations keen to improve customer and employee insights and empathy to increase their success in new markets, build loyalty, and increase innovation. She does this using a co-design process that engages employees and key stakeholders to create collaborative solutions. Contact Catherine to discover how her services can support your organisation to harness the changing demographic reality.

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