Gold Age Power List

Gold Age Power List

We're all familiar with lifetime achievement awards. Usually handed out to older people, they recognise contributions made during a life’s work in a particular field of expertise. But what about the people who continue to achieve into their 80s or 90s? Or even start to achieve great things in new areas in their 60s and 70s?

The WRVS Gold Age Power List is recognition of the people who are making extraordinary achievements and inspirational contributions in the later decades of their lives. The list celebrates 66 people over 66 from the worlds of arts, sports and adventure, science, public service and business. It also recognises local volunteers who continue to make invaluable contributions in their local communities every day.

At WRVS we believe that our society must wake up to the positive contribution that older people make. We must value, recognise, and capitalise on this contribution. Only through this will we achieve our ambition of making Britain a great place to grow old.

Download the WRVS Gold Age Power List

The public figures who have been judged to lead the list have achieved the following since the age of 66.

Diana Athill

Arts and literature - Diana Athill OBE, 93

Diana Athill won the 2009 Costa biography prize for Somewhere Towards The End, a memoir about old age. In the same year she was awarded an OBE.

In her first career, she worked with some of the most important writers of the 20th century, retiring in 1993 at the age of 75, after more than 50 years in publishing. She has since written six memoirs; she has also translated various works from French. In June 2010, she was the subject of a BBC documentary, 'Growing Old Disgracefully.'

Delia Smith

Business - Delia Smith CBE, 69

Delia Smith remains the UK’s best selling cookery author, with 21m of her books sold. Her television series, Delia’s How To Cook, reportedly led to a 10% rise in egg sales in Britain, while her use of ingredients, such as cranberries, has been known cause an instant sell- out.

Her latest television series, Delia Through the Decades, was broadcast in 2010. In March 2001 she launched a website, Delia Online, through which she offers an archive of her recipes. She is a major shareholder in Norwich City Football Club, which recently celebrated a return to the premiership, and has reportedly ploughed millions of pounds into saving it from financial difficulty. She was awarded a CBE in 2009.

Queen Elizabeth II

Public Service – Queen Elizabeth II, 85

Queen Elizabeth II, 85, is the longest-lived monarch of the United Kingdom; her reign is second in length only to that of Queen Victoria. She has been on the throne for 59 years and is currently the world’s second-longest-serving head of state.

Her Silver and Golden Jubilees were celebrated in 1977 and 2002; plans for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 are currently under way. Last year she carried out over 444 engagements and in May 2011, she made a highly successful state visit to the Republic of Ireland, the first such visit by a reigning British monarch for a century.

Lord Robert Winston

Sciences and academia – Lord Robert Winston, 70

Robert Winston was voted ‘peer of the year’ by his fellow parliamentarians three years ago for his work on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill. Currently Professor of Science and Society, and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London, his research led to the development of gynaecological microsurgery in the 1970s and developments in reproductive medicine.

He currently runs a programme in the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology researching improvements in transgenic technology in animals, with the long-term aim of improving human transplantation. Made a peer in 1995, he sits on the Labour benches.

Michael Palin

Sports and adventure – Michael Palin CBE, 68

Michael Palin is a comedian, actor, writer, and former Python who, in the second half of his life, has become a traveller and documentary-maker. His journeys have taken him to the North and South Poles, the Sahara desert, the Himalayas and, most recently, Eastern Europe.

In 2009, Palin became president of the Royal Geographic Society and is currently in production for a new four-part BBC1 series exploring Brazil. In honour of his achievements as a traveller, especially by rail, Palin has had two British trains named after him. In 2000, he received a CBE for his services to television. He campaigns for sustainable transport and was instrumental in setting up the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children in 1993.

Sir David Attenborough

Music and entertainment – Sir David Attenborough, 85

David Attenborough is a broadcaster and naturalist whose distinguished career in broadcasting has spanned more than 50 years and he continues to work into his ninth decade. On his 80th birthday in 2006, he was on the Galapagos Islands, filming giant tortoises.

He is currently writing and presenting Frozen Planet, a new series for BBC1 examining the impact of climate change on the polar regions. He holds 29 honorary degrees from British universities, was knighted in 1985 and made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1983. In April 2005, he was awarded the Order of Merit. In 2009, the Natural History Museum opened its Attenborough Studio, part of its Darwin Centre development.

Local Heroes

As well as recognising those in the public eye, we wanted to celebrate the contribution and impact made by people every day in local communities through the UK.

To find these local heroes, WRVS made a UK-wide call for nominations – inviting people via local media to tell us about the unsung heroes making a huge impact in their local communities. We received nominations from across the country. The final 11 individuals were chosen by the judging panel based on the level of their impact and the scope of work they were involved in.

Alice Cleland

Alice Cleland CBE, 70

Alice gives over 50 hours a month of her time to support different charities – being a trustee of 13 national and local charities as well as being an active and practical supporter of many more. After retiring from her position as national Vice-Chairman of WRVS in 2004 she has focused her energy for WRVS into the development of its national archive.

A typical month will include work for Cancer Research UK, helping to run the Devizes Arts Festival, fundraising for her local church, Family Mediation and WRVS as well as running her Opera Charity – Opera Luna. She manages not only to achieve all this work for her community, but also takes great pride in and supports her family, especially her grandchildren.

George Mabon

George Mabon, 70

George is a Charter Member of the Seaton & District Lions Club and over the last 30 years has encouraged others to assist him in fundraising, welfare and making the lives of hundreds of people, of all ages, much happier. He also works at Home Safeguard at Sidmouth EDDC, answering the 24-hour emergency telephones and with his local Neighbourhood Watch group.

As part of his duties, George checks on the elderly or those living alone, taking flasks of soup and helping with the shopping. As well as his volunteering, George looks after his wife who suffers with osteoarthritis. A great husband, dad and grandad, George has also earned the respect of everyone who lives in the Axe Valley.

Eunice McGhie-Belgrave

Eunice McGhie-Belgrave MBE, 76

Eunice launched her community group, Shades of Black, in the wake of the in Handsworth Riots in the mid 1980s. The group was set up to rebuild and reconcile the community as well as reassure people. The project has since expanded to help the elderly and the housebound and take them on day trips, as well as a thriving allotments scheme, which introduces city youngsters to the joys of growing their own food, which is then distributed to elderly people in the local area.

Eunice, who has four children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild, also helped create a garden in Handsworth Community Fire Station and hosts a local Harvest Festival every year. Her face has recently been included on a ‘wall of fame’ at a Birmingham Probation Office.

Doris Long

Doris Long, 96

'Daring Doris' has become known for her incredible fundraising stunts and has broken four Guinness World Records to become the world's oldest abseiler.

Great-great grandmother Doris has completed 18 abseils, starting at the tender age of 85. Her stunts have raised over £15,000 for local Portsmouth charities including The Rowans Hospice, Hampshire Association For The Care Of The Blind and the Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Marion Cornick

Marion Cornick, 70

Marion is the founder of the Loddon School Charity in Basingstoke – a school for children with autism and severe & profound learning disabilities, which she founded almost 25 years ago. Since then the school has been at the forefront of supporting children with autism but also by providing training nationally.

She is also the Managing Director of Liaise Loddon which provides personalised residential care to adults with autism and severe learning disabilities across Hampshire. Marion is the Chair of the Disability Forum in Basingstoke, raising awareness and co-ordinating activities to support people with a wide range of disabilities. In June 2011, Marion will also be made the first female president of the Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club. In her ‘free-time’ she continues to lecture internationally and campaign for rights for people with autism.

Pat Goodwin

Pat Goodwin, 88

Pat is a very active member of her local community supporting charities with fundraising and voluntary work. As a member of Fishguard RNLI fundraising committee, she undertakes bucket collections, is their chief raffle organiser and ‘getter’, which entails visiting shops and businesses and charming them into giving a prize, which works every time!

All those who know her will say what a ‘treasure’ she is and how her enthusiasm and willingness is vital, as well as being pivotal to the success of voluntary organisations within the community.

Ted Cowling

Ted Cowling, 91

Ted has been fundraising for several charities over the past 15 years – raising more than £75,000 in total. He has always played a very active role in his community, forming trust funds for causes close to his heart. Ted has overcome personal tragedy after recently losing his wife as well as both of his daughters to cancer, to raise vital money for local charities. At his 90th birthday party a cheque presentation was made for £1,170 for the Severn Hospice, in lieu of presents.

Before retiring, Ted was a member of the RAF and personally chosen by Winston Churchill to undertake a top secret mission to fly to Russia to meet Stalin. As a result a film company has contacted him, wishing to make a documentary about the ‘Arctic Convoy’ he was a part of in WWII.

Anne Seymour

Anne Seymour, 76

Before retiring Anne was a consultant in the local hospital’s A&E department; when she finished work she spent seven years in Cameroon working in schools and hospitals and was also in Nigeria during the civil war. Now she has returned to the UK, Anne helps run a refugee asylum centre, supported by the churches in South Shields.

Anne was appointed one of the key organisers of the drop-in centre and the centre is used as a ‘point of contact’ or a ‘one stop shop’ for refugees to gain advice and for organisations such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Health Visitors and even the police to visit to help.

Jean Munro

Jean Munro, 77

In 1968, Jean was involved with the emergency training service and to date continues to support Raigmore Hospital shop and trolley, ward service and emergency support to blue light services in Inverness. She is known for her outstanding dedication and loyalty to WRVS and she is selfless in giving time and enthusiasm - and motivating all concerned, Jean is very popular with fellow volunteers.

Despite recently losing her supportive husband, Jean continues to play a key role with WRVS and many other charitable causes and is always on hand to take on extra duties at short notice.

Bill Morris

Bill Morris, 79

Bill is a foster parent in Oxfordshire and since retiring 15 years ago he has taken a very active role in caring for young people. He offers understanding and loving care to young people, whether they’re his foster children, adopted children or birth children. Bill loves his children unconditionally, equally and without favour.

He continues to offer security and care unreservedly despite his age and remains fit and healthy. He still has much to offer to these young people who continue to benefit from his generosity and genuine wish to enhance their lives.

Raymond Davies

Raymond Davies MBE, 72

A founding member of the Glossop Mountain Rescue team, Raymond has given more than 50 years voluntary service. Now Life President, Raymond has been team leader and then Chairman since it was established in 1957, and continues to respond to callouts. Raymond was also a founder member of the Peak District Mountain Rescue organisation.

In 2007 he was awarded an MBE for 50 years in the voluntary services to Mountain Rescue in the Peak District. Through his rescue work Raymond has helped save lives and as well as provide comfort to lost or injured people in the British Isles and elsewhere.