WITH her 60th birthday on the horizon, Rachel Woodward Carrick set herself a challenge.
It was to achieve something she felt passionately about. In her own words: “The small, simple things you can do to make your life a little bit happier, a little bit healthier and a little bit easier as we grow older.”
Firstly, Rachel set up Happy Silver People, the name partly inspired by the REM song, Shiny Happy People. She started making videos for her own YouTube channel, including short interviews with inspiring silver people.
Then Rachel collated useful and interesting articles and stories in the Happy Silver People magazine on Flipboard.
And, finally, the big one. Her own book – Happy Silver People: How to make life happier as you grow older.
It runs to more than 260 pages, some 60,000 words and is available now on Amazon and through her website.
Rachel, who is college director at Bournemouth University International College, said: “I couldn’t find anything anywhere that gave me a manual of how to become the older person that I wanted to be.
“There are books about gentle ageing, health-specific or how to live to be 100. Mine is about making the best of life.”
The book has six main themes with the first letter of each subject heading spelling out the word Silver when added together:
Stimulating your senses
Looking after yourself
Valuing others and the world around you
Enjoying and experiencing
Re-energising and reconnecting
Rachel said: “What I find is that putting these things into practice definitely does make a difference and will give you the right kind of mindset as you grow older.
“We can’t deny the fact that there are going to be very difficult experiences ahead – bereavement, loneliness, financial difficulty, you may feel isolated, your health may suffer.
“It’s about preparing yourself as best as you can to meet those situations and embracing old age. I find it frustrating that people see old age as negative.
“But actually how fortunate we are to be growing older when so many people don’t have that opportunity and we can still keep making the most of it.
“In the book I deliberately talk about people who may not have their health, mobility or a lot of money. “It’s not just for just people who can get out and do things. It’s a very inclusive book.”
As author Rachel is described in the book as an ordinary person who has had an unusual life.
One brother, Robert, lost his fight with cancer just before he turned 12, while her youngest brother, Hugh, had Down’s Syndrome and suffered a fatal heart attack when he was four.
Her father, Bob Woodward OBE, founded the CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood) trust. He went on to raise more than £100 million for various charities.
Mikhail Gorbechev, the eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union, described him as ‘one of the world’s greatest humanitarians’ while former PM David Cameron said her father was ‘a truly unsung hero who takes our breath away’.
Bob Woodward died in 2019 at the age of 85.
Rachel, who received the first copy of her book last November on the day after she turned 60, said her life experiences had inevitably influenced her approach to the book.
She said: “The charity [CLIC] was very much about making something positive from something very sad.
“It was trying to find a focus and put your energy in a positive way.
“The same goes for getting older. Underlying it all is a positive mindset and trying to maintain it with whatever life throws at you.
“We have to future proof ourselves as much as we can. I think having been through it when I was much younger I can envisage more easily what it might be like as I grow older.
“Age isn’t a barrier. There are opportunities that open up when you’re older which might not have been there when you were younger. Time being a key one when you’re retired.
“We need to think about the older person we’d like to be and the kind of things we can do – and there are lots – to help ourselves get there.”
Rachel, a Board member of Bournemouth Town Centre BID and a voluntary vice-president for Young Lives vs Cancer (previously CLIC Sargent) said she was very encouraged by the response to her book.
She said: “I feel very reassured and proud now because of the feedback I’m getting. I’ve had a lot of very positive feedback, especially men, which I hadn’t really expected. Some is really powerful.
“Different age groups are reading it as well. Some have bought it and given it to their parents who are in their 70s or 80s and they’re getting a lot from it.
“The book took nearly 18 months to put together. It was very daunting and I found the writing very challenging.
“The approach I took was to keep it quite light-hearted in order to reach a wide audience and it seems to have worked.”
Rachel will share some of the strategies and tools which have enabled her, and fellow authors, to find the time to write books at the inaugural Bournemouth Writing Festival on Saturday, April 22, at 11.30am.