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. Our first interview of 2020 is with 66 year old Liz Bell... the mum of three, grandmother of one (with two more on the way) is retired and lives in Belfast.

What did/do you work at?

I left school at 15 and started as an apprenticeship trainee hairdresser. After I had my children I went to college to study bookkeeping and went on to become the general manager of a small private nursing home in Belfast. I worked there for nearly 11 years and I really enjoyed it.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t worry so much, worry will only make you ill, take each day as it comes.

What advice would you give to younger people today?

Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’s, it doesn't matter if they have a bigger car or a bigger house, your health is your wealth. Family is all that matters.

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

That would be my early 40s. I had just separated from my husband and it was the beginning of a new chapter with my three children.

What in your opinion was the best decade? Why?

1960s. I was a teenager living at home with mum and dad and my eight siblings. I left school and started work in the late sixties, plus the music at that time was fantastic. I would dearly love to go back in time and be with all of my family again for one last time

What is your earliest memory?

Waking up one Christmas morning. Because there were a lot of us it was even more exciting, we would run downstairs and mum and dad were waiting for us in the hall. Dad would open the door and there would be little piles of presents. Dad would say "right now, this one is yours Ann, that’s yours John" and so on, until we all had our presents.

Proudest achievement?

Without a doubt, raising my children. I was a single parent and although it was very tough at times, it was all worth it to see them grow into lovely, caring hard-working adults. That is what I am so very proud of.

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

The most difficult things for me are firstly my deteriorating health – I have Crohn’s disease and it can be a really debilitating illness. Also as you get older, it is inevitable that you will start losing friends and family. I’ve lost my mum, two brothers and two best friends in the space of six years. That is very difficult indeed.

And the most rewarding? The most rewarding is, even though I have my health problems, I am so lucky compared to some of my family and friends who have passed away far too young. Watching my two beautiful girls and my son grow up has also been very rewarding – they have made my life complete.

In 2017 my beautiful little granddaughter Bonnie was born, she is a little tonic and I look forward to meeting two new grandchildren this year.

What is the biggest misconception about getting older?

Don't dread getting older, just think how lucky you are. I think back to the friends I have lost over the years and how lucky I was to have met them. Life is what you make it.

Finally, give us your favourite quote?

If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

Would you like to take part in our words of wisdom interview? Or 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.

Get in touch by emailing communications@copni.org