Tag Archives: writer

Over 60’s success!

4 Jan

You are never too old to achieve and become an inspiration to others. It is widely publicised that we are all living longer and with advances in medicine allowing us to live more healthily, 60 is fast becoming the new 30. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be 395 million over 80’s worldwide.  Older people are no longer content to sit in a rocking chair and knit. Retirement can be a time for new beginnings and a new lease of life. We can take inspiration from following people all achieved success after the age of 60:

Gfauja-singh-marathonladys Burrill, from Hawaii became the oldest woman complete a marathon, age 92. She completed her first marathon age 86. Fauja Singh ran his first marathon age 89 and completed the Toronto Waterfront marathon age 100.

Frank McCourt became a bestselling author age 66 with Angela’s Ashes. Bertha Wood had her first book, Fresh Air and Fun, published on her 100th birthday. She began writing it age 90. Peter Roget invented the Thesaurus age 73. He suffered from OCD and making lists calmed him.

Colonel Hartland Sanders established the Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant chain age 65. On her 72nd birthday Poppy Bridger bought the company she used to work for and went back to work to grow the company, Anahiem test labs. Bill Foster founded Accessibility Services age 71 to support older people to stay in their own homes and remain independent.

Artists Mary Delany invented paper collage at age 72, Grandma Moses became famous in her 70’s and sculptorlouise-bourgeois Louise Bourgoise received mainstream recognition after the age of 60.

Over 60s are fast becoming the mainstay of the volunteering work force, supporting and inspiring others with their knowledge, skills, wisdom and sense of fun. If you, or anyone you know has a lot left to give and would like to make a difference, contact us at info@opsw.co.uk We would love to hear your views.

Return to Learn

2 Dec

We have met many inspirational people who have returned to education later in life; here are some of their stories:


“Some years ago, at the grand old age of 33, I decided it was time I got a proper job!  I had worked in pubs and shops and offices but felt unfulfilled; I could be heard to say that I didn’t want to have “Here Lies Unfulfilled Potential” written on my tombstone.  I was really the only person that could ensure that that didn’t happen.

I was the single Mum of two lovely children, both of whom were now at school.  This was my time!

I embarked on a Return to Learn course, which led onto an Access course and then a teaching degree at Exeter University – in total a five year project!  Five years in which I sometimes felt out of my depth, and wondered who I was kidding to think I was capable of a degree; however, it was also five years in which I felt enlivened, excited and energised – I realised I did have a brain and that I loved delving into literature and its hidden meanings, and I also learned that I could “feel the fear but do it anyway” to paraphrase a well-known saying!

I am now in my 13th year of teaching – having gone from Mealtime Assistant to Assistant Head Teacher – and I can honestly say I never feel unfulfilled!

I believe that there are often unintended consequences of our actions – I think my children saw a good role model – and so did some of my friends – 3 of them have gone onto study at university – one to PHd level, after watching me and seeing anything is possible if you put your mind to it!

If you are remotely tempted to make a change, take a leap of faith, give it a go – what have you got to lose? …..Oh, and Good Luck!”


Lucy was working as a lawyer, and had a good job which she loved.  Following the birth of her daughter, she found that she was no longer as excited by and passionate about her job, and wanted to try something new.  She wanted to be able to work closer to home, term time only, and in a rewarding role.  She decided to retrain as a Classroom Assistant.  She started volunteering in the local primary school and enrolled on a course at her local college.  Now with a second baby, Lucy has completed her course and has just been offered her first job as a Classroom Assistant!

“I will earn a lot less money, but I’ll have more job satisfaction, and the pay-off is the holidays – I get to spend time with my family.  I am keeping up with my Legal Continuing Professional Development though, as it means I can always use my Legal skills.”

Sophie Duffy is an author from Devon who has had two books published: The Generation Game and This Holey Life.

“How did I start?  It was back in 2001.  We’d just moved from London to Worthing with our three kids, aged 2, 4 and 5.  I didn’t know anyone and my brain was going to mush so I decided to do an evening class.  I chose creative writing partly because I had done an English degree but mainly because it was on an evening when my husband was around to babysit.  After the first lesson, I was hooked.  I had a fantastic tutor and made some great friends.  I went on to do an MA in Creative Writing by distance learning at Lancaster University.

Eleven years on from that first evening class, my kids are 13, 16 and 17 – so look out for teenage angst in the next novel.  Now I just have to write it…”

To find out more about Sophie and her writing, see her website www.sophieduffy.com.  Sophie is also one of the authors behind Creative Writing Matters – offering support to other aspiring authors through workshops and mentoring.  See www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk to find out more.

Are you thinking about a career change?  Check out Opportunity Plus UK’s great range of courses.  Whether you already have the skills and ideas you need and just want a basic Business Start-up course, or you want to learn a brand new skill, Opportunity Plus UK have the course for you.  Visit www.opportunityplus.org.uk for a full course list.

Want to be a writer?

17 Sep

We meet so many customers who dream of getting a book published one day.  Sophie Duffy is a writer who lives in Teignmouth, Devon.  She has had two (fantastic) books published in the last couple of years.  For her, it all started when she took an evening class in creative writing after having children.

So you want to be a writer? Well, let me just say, it’s the best of jobs and the worst of jobs. Well, not completely the worst – it’s not like you have to go down any mines or endure arm-to-arm combat – but it is one that requires tenacity and a very thick skin. You have good days and bad days and days that you wonder why on earth you are doing this, but once you embark on your writing journey, it is impossible to retrace your steps.

Once a writer, always a writer. You will look at the world differently. You will have more empathy for your fellow human beings. You will notice words and the beauty and rhythms of language. You will read differently. You will yearn for some time and space for your writing. Time will be even more precious than before. You will have to get used to rejections (lots of them). You will have to get used to criticism and weed the useful from the distinctly unhelpful. You will learn to find ways to answer the same old questions graciously: ‘Is this really fiction?’ ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ ‘Do you earn loads of money?’

Mmm, yes, money. There won’t be loads of it. Maybe a trickle here and there if you are lucky.

You will have to be disciplined as you work home alone. ‘No, I can’t look after your toddler this afternoon, I am working.’ ‘No, I can’t meet you for a cuppa this morning, I am working.’ ‘No, I cant pick up that package from the post office today, I AM WORKING.’

But don’t let any of this put you off if you have a desire to write stories. It’s all worthwhile when you hear from someone you’ve never met that they loved your book.

So how did I start? It was back in 2001. We’d just moved from London to Worthing with our three kids, aged 2, 4 and 5. I didn’t know anyone and my brain was going to mush so I decided to do an evening class. I chose creative writing partly because I had done an English degree but mainly because it was on an evening when my husband was around to babysit. After the first lesson, I was hooked. I had a fantastic tutor and made some great friends. I went on to do an MA in Creative Writing by distance learning at Lancaster University.

In 2005, having completed two unpublishable novels, we moved to Devon. I joined Exeter Writers and began writing The Generation Game. Always one for competitions, I entered the opening chapters into the Yeovil Literary Prize in 2006 and it won. This gave me the confidence to carry on, especially after being approached and signed by an agent. Unfortunately, once finished, the agent didn’t sell it.

So I began on another novel, This Holey Life. I entered the opening chapters of this into The Harry Bowling Prize in 2008. Although it was runner-up, my agent didn’t like it. So should I start another novel or go it alone?

I left my agent. In 2010, after a year of wondering if I’d ever make it, I saw an advert for the Luke Bitmead Award for new novelists and entered The Generation Game. To my delight it won and I received a bursary and a publishing contract. The Generation Game was published in August 2011 by Legend Press. A year on This Holey Life has been published, also by Legend.

It’s been a long journey but I’m glad I carried on. The good thing about writing when the kids were small was that I learnt to write in small bursts, to make the most of every opportunity and to treasure those times when I could write stories. And now, at last, people are reading them.

And finally. My novels are fiction but I do write what I know and so I write about family life. The Generation Game explores what family means – it’s not necessarily your blood relatives but the people who bring you up and love you that count.

This Holey Life is the story of Vicky, a reluctant curate’s wife, struggling to come to terms with a bereavement and her husband’s new-found faith. When her older brother comes to stay, her world is turned upside down as childhood roles are replayed between brother and sister.

Eleven years on from that first evening class, my kids are 13, 16 and 17 –  so look out for teenage angst in the next novel. Now I just have to write it…


Writing can be isolating so think about joining a group


Maybe do a class

Enter competitions – get your work out there!

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