Richard’s Story

Following his retirement, Richard wanted to use his spare time to make a difference. At 75, he started training as a counsellor and qualified at the age of 80. He now uses his skills as a volunteer counsellor for Rennie Grove Peace.

Richard’s Story

It’s never too late to make a change: “I qualified as a counsellor at the age of 80”

After a successful career in electrical engineering Richard decided to spend his retirement giving back to other people. Following a family bereavement, it was a conversation with his own counsellor that inspired him to train in a new profession, at the age of 75. 

He says:  

“I always knew I wanted to retire by the age of 60. I figured that if I went on too long and left it too late, there wouldn’t be enough time to do everything that I wanted to do.  

“I did retire at 60 as planned and found that it was quite an adjustment. The end of your career is almost like a bereavement of sorts. It was a difficult transition but I knew I wanted to channel my time and energy into making a difference, so I began volunteering with a number of local organisations.  

“I had known about counselling as a profession because my sister, Prue, had been a counsellor and founder of The Norwich Centre, one of the first person-centred counselling agencies in the UK. It’s not something I had ever had much understanding of, though, until I sought bereavement counselling following Prue’s death.  

“After working together for a number of years my counsellor, who had an understanding of my desire to help people, suggested I consider training as a counsellor myself. I initially dismissed the suggestion because I assumed that at the age of 75 I was too old. But she assured me that my life experience would be very beneficial in the role.  

“Although I initially brushed it off, something about the suggestion just felt right. She made the comment on a Thursday and by the Saturday of that week, I was at my local college’s open day and enrolling on the four-year counselling course.   

“During my training I had a student placement with Rennie Grove, as it was then, based at Grove House. That was during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 so I spent the placement working with patients over the phone, via zoom or in the garden of their own home.  

“I found the placement so fulfilling that after receiving my diploma, I decided to stay on as a volunteer counsellor.  

“I now volunteer one afternoon per week and can see up to three clients during that time. I work with both clients who are living with a life-limiting illness and those who have been bereaved after loved ones were cared for by Rennie Grove Peace.  

“I absolutely love what I do. I’m not getting any younger and I just want to spend my time doing something that I enjoy and other people benefit from. My counselling work is exactly that. I also volunteer as a counsellor with two other charities and do so because I get a lot of satisfaction from helping people.  

“I’ve recently been working with a Rennie Grove Peace client whose course of counselling ended. The last time I was at Grove House I was passed a card from her, wishing me a happy Easter. For me, that’s what it’s all about – not the card, but the fact that I was able to make a difference to someone’s life during a very difficult period. For me that’s the only reward I need, and the exact reason I decided to dedicate my retirement to helping others.”