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David Callow with Weston-Super-Mare backroom staff kit on

Posted 13 February 2017

In praise of retiring at state pension age: a sporting chance at a great retirement

David Callow, a self-confessed 69¾ year-old, gave up working the nine-to-five on his 65th birthday – and now he wonders how he found time to hold down a full-time job as well as enjoy his other activities. David talked to Tony Watts (@tonywattswriter) about how he’s managing to stay very active and gave his tips to those considering retirement.

Like many of us, David Callow likes his football and follows his team, Weston-super-Mare, all over the South of England. But when he gets to the ground, he doesn't sit on a comfortable seat in the stand. Instead, David chooses to perch on a cold, and quite possibly wet, bench on the side of the pitch, volunteering as one of the club’s back-room staff.

David’s role at the club is tending to injuries on the pitch and helping players recover from strains, pulls and muscle pains between matches – something he has been doing for various clubs, including Bristol City’s youth side, for almost 20 years since qualifying as a sports injuries therapist in his spare time.

Despite being the oldest person on either bench at a match, he still prides himself on getting to an injured player as quickly as his opposite number.

The unpaid role also involves turning up to training sessions several times a week and travelling around 12 miles from David’s home in Cheddar. Getting the team’s players fit for the next match is a serious business in a semi-professional club that’s just two tiers below the English Football League.

‘It’s my way of staying involved with the game I’ve loved since I was a boy,’ says David. ‘I never quite made the grade to becoming professional, although I did get trial at Wolves in the days when they were a big side. Doing this keeps me active, and I just love the camaraderie of the changing room. I am still treated with respect by the young lads – and as long as I get that, I’ll carry on.’

"Doing this keeps me active, and I just love the camaraderie of the changing room."

The most famous player he’s treated? ‘Sammy McIlroy of Manchester and Northern Ireland,’ reminisces David. ‘It was a fundraising friendly, and – as he was past his best days by then – he needed his hamstrings untightening before the game.’

Having retired from his job as site supervisor at a local school, where he made sure all of the contract maintenance work was properly carried out, David can now attend midweek away matches.

‘I was there for the last 20 years and worked right up to 65. I had thought of leaving earlier, but putting in those last five years meant a big difference to my pension – I doubled the lump sum I was entitled to, and added another 20% to my monthly pension.

‘I only had a small private pension that I’d built up during the days when I’d run my own company, plus the state pension, so that boost proved very worthwhile.'

‘They did ask me to carry on working past 65, but towards the end I was looking forward to enjoying the flexibility of retirement. I was sorry to leave the people – staff and pupils – but not the job.’

"I was looking forwards to enjoying the flexibility of retirement"

David’s job applying the heat patches and magic sponge doesn't provide any extra income, but the expenses he receives help keep his car on the road.

As well as his part-time role, he is also in demand amongst friends and family for his DIY prowess.

‘The first few months after I retired were spent putting an extension onto our house, then I got a call from my son to help him fix his house up too,’ says David. ‘I often get asked by friends to sort out a problem or do a small job – you’re never short of work if you’re a builder!’

And if all that wasn’t enough, he still manages to get in nine holes of golf three days a week, not forgetting regular trips to see the grandchildren, aged 5 and 7.

‘That’s another big benefit of retiring,’ he reveals. ‘You get a proper chance to see them growing up. My time now is much more my own.'

"Some jobs are more stressful than others and it's important to choose the time to retire that's right for you."

‘When you retire,’ continues David, ‘is not just about you but the job you do too. Some jobs are more stressful than others and it's important to choose the time to retire that’s right for you.’

David's parting words of advice

David’s wife Sue still works part-time at the local doctor’s surgery, so that means he comes in for his share of housework.

‘If I had one tip for retirement it’s this: if you’re doing something useful about the house, your wife will never tell you off!’ he jokes.

Any unfulfilled ambitions? ‘Just to see Weston-super-Mare get promoted.’

And his financial advice for anyone coming up to retirement? ‘Live for today and save a little for tomorrow!’

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