The knowledge, skills and invaluable contribution older people make to society is something to be shared and celebrated. Our Appreciating Age report revealed the significant contributions that older people make to our public, family, employment, volunteering, community and faith lives. And it found the total financial contribution older people will make from 2012–2062 is a staggering £50billion.

Every aspect of our society is greatly enriched by the active involvement of older people – everything from grandparents providing childcare or replacement parenting to financial contributions as well as volunteering in their local community.

Our ‘words of wisdom’ interview celebrates our older people and the contribution they make. It gets their take on life, lessons learned and advice they would give to their younger self and younger people today.

We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we do!

Words of wisdom with…Betty Craig, 93

Betty Craig lives in a residential home in Belfast, she is 93 years old, with three children, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Hi Betty, tell us what did/do you work at?

I retired from Queen’s University, Belfast in 1986 when I was 60. I worked at QUB as an Arts and Culture Administrator following 15 years as Assistant Director of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s following a number of years working in the University’s Students’ Union. As the Union accountant I was responsible for all monies both in and out of the Students’ Union before being seconded to the Festival.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Never give up and try to live as good a life as possible under whatever circumstances. I do sympathise with young people today as the working world is totally different to when I was working, 60 or 70 years ago. Technology has developed so rapidly that I doubt I could have coped with computers and technology as they have to do today.

What age has been the best age of your life? Why?

Having my three children while still in my 20s gave me huge satisfaction and I am blessed and grateful for their health, and the joy and pride I receive from them all – who are now in their 60s! Given the years of sadness following my divorce in 1968, and my need to find a job, I could not have found a more satisfying one than that which I was offered at QUB, followed by 15 very enjoyable years with the Festival, where I was privileged to meet so many extremely talented and well known artists from the world of culture and entertainment.

What is your earliest memory?

Around the age of three, our family moved into our first home which was owned by the Cadbury Family in Bournville, Birmingham, and I vividly remember running down the long hallway there.

Proudest achievement?

Never having had the opportunity for either a grammar school or university education, the graduation days of both my own two daughters and four grandchildren were very special. My own personal achievement was the growth and success of the Belfast Festival during those darkest days in Northern Ireland’s history, building it from a very small event to the second largest arts festival in the UK, second only to the Edinburgh Festival

What would you say are the most difficult and most rewarding things about growing older?

Gosh! Where do I start? I celebrated my 93rd birthday in June and have been living in Belfast Central Mission’s Kirk House residential home for nearly two years. At the time, the move was made with much regret, but I am now happily settled in after making many new friends. There is one particular male friend here who is extremely caring and has, I must admit, changed my attitude toward being a very old lady. Despite the disadvantages of ill health and all the everyday difficulties one has to face to get through the day, there is always someone much worse than oneself, and so you live to accept it.

Do you know an inspirational older person who is young at heart and defies the stereotype of an older person? Does your Granny love to surf? Or maybe you have a Grandad mad for skydiving? Perhaps your older parents are still working or are selfless volunteers continuing to make a difference to their community. If you know someone who fits the bill and who would be happy to be interviewed, we’d love to hear from you.

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Read our Appreciating Age report