14 December 2016

A time of endless leisure and fulfilment or one filled with financial uncertainty and loneliness – what is retirement really like? Well a unique oral history project by University of Hertfordshire has been finding out and the results are being broadcast in a special documentary on BBC Radio 4.

The University’s Oral History Team (OHT) will see its ‘Starting Again’ project broadcast as part of Radio 4’s ‘Archive on 4’ strand under the title ‘Instant History’ on Saturday 17th December 2016 at 8.00pm.

BBC Radio 4

The Starting Again project invited people from across the UK to record their reflections and thoughts on retirement, reminiscing over their careers and looking forward to the years ahead during interviews with the OHT. The interviewees discuss everything from the changes they saw over the course of their working lives to how they prepared for their impending retirement, their plans and hopes and fears for the future.

Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Andrew Green, said: ‘The listeners who tune in will hear a kaleidoscope of colourful stories from everyday people who have worked in a variety of jobs. It is a project that celebrates the achievements and reflects on the lives of ordinary people who have led extraordinary lives from across the UK.’

As well as the participants’ stories, the listeners will also hear how members of the OHT prepared for the project and the impact listening to the stories also had on the students involved.

"..led extraordinary lives..."

Speaking about conducting the interviews, OHT member and student, Adil Hussain, added, my interviewee  ‘gave these truly rich anecdotes, stories that were so rich that you craved to live life to its fullest from there on, just so you might have some of your own.’

To make the programme, staff and students from the project conducted 25  interviews with the participants under the guidance of Andrew Green who also presents the R4 programme.

The work was completed across a weekend in late October, with members of the team travelling as far afield as Llandudno and Windsor, Leicester and Ipswich, Scunthorpe and Cheltenham to meet their interviewees.

"...truly rich anecdotes..."

Those interviewed were drawn from all walks of life, including a steelworker, head teacher, shop worker, accountant, civil engineer, nurse, female member of the CofE clergy, firefighter, founder of an addiction treatment organisation, cricketer….and many more.

The full ‘Starting Again’ interviews will be available on the University of Hertfordshire Oral History Archive from Monday 19 December 2016. You can find out more about the Oral History Team and their experiences here: http://go.herts.ac.uk/oralhistory

For more details on the BBC Radio 4 programme visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0855vzd