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Joe Bartley – pick of the oldsters of the year

Joe Bartley, Oldster of the year
Joe Bartley, Oldster of the year

2016 has been a good year for soldiering on.  There has been no shortage of oldsters carrying on working well past normal retirement age. In the theatre Judy Dench is still working after passing her 82nd birthday, and Glenda Jackson made a triumphant comeback to the stage with an outstanding interpretation of King Lear also at the age of 80.

As ever the Queen continues to lead the charge, still active in her 90th year, although she has cut back on some of her overseas engagements. Not forgetting the Duke of Edinburgh, still going strong at 95.

The recently knighted and award-winning photojournalist Don McCullin, who made his name covering conflicts in Vietnam, Biafra and Northern Ireland  turned 80 in October, but is still actively reporting back from Mosul and Pamyra. As ever his primary interest is the terrible effects on the people, not the fighting.

Tom Young retired from retirement after 4 months to set up  Angels’ Share Glass. He was the first to be honoured at the age of 78 for his services to glass-blowing, but his MBE could just as well have been awarded for his services to the Scottish Whisky industry.  Also honoured was Alan Woodhouse who helped set up the Liverpool branch of the Samaritans in 1960 and is still active as a volunteer listener at 83.

In North America, the next President turned 70 last year.  Still some way to catch up with the singer Tony Bennett, starting out on his next tour at the age of 90. Rupert Murdoch, like him or not, sizing up his next acquisition and celebrating his 86th birthday in March.

Indeed the number of active people in their later years from the creative arts and politics continues to grow year by year.

However, the prize for soldiering on this year has to go to Joe Bartley, the old soldier from Paignton, Devon. Joe went back to work at the age of 89 as he was just bored sitting around at home.  He placed an ad in the local paper, and is now working in a restaurant.  It seems his fame has brought about a marked increase in new customers.

He said he had never expected his advert would grant him “celebrity status”.

“I would feel more like Joe if I was working – now I don’t feel like Joe because I’ve got to depend on the Council for rent and everything else,” Mr Bartley said.

“You see, when you’re working for yourself you’re more or less self-contained. I don’t know how to explain it any better really, you feel more individual and you’re meeting people, making friends.”

Mr Bartley said he enjoyed watching television but “there’s a lot of guff on these days” and admitted he was “bored stiff with nothing to do”.

All genuine agewhatage oldsters – determined to live life to the full, whatever their age.



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