Inspirational Generation

The wait is over! Discover the stories of our 9 Inspirational Generation winners

From Dorset to Glasgow, we’ve scoured the nation in search of members of the Inspirational Generation who give us all reason to get out there and try something new. And we have to say, making a decision was no easy task. Every one of our nominations is proof that age has no limits, with stories of bravery, commitment, adventure and determination inspiring the lives of the people who surround them.

With help from our guest judge, Gloria Hunniford, McCarthy Stone have carefully selected 8 regional winners from our Inspirational Generation entries and a national winner. From completing a triathlon following a triple heart bypass to winning beauty competitions at 60 years young, our winners have shown us all that some of the biggest achievements can come after retirement. Read all about the inspiring lives of our winners below!

The Winners’ Stories

Below, we have listed the inspiring journeys of our 8 carefully selected regional winners and our national winner, who hails from Bradford. Their achievements are a source of inspiration for us all and here at McCarthy Stone, we take pride in the strength and determination of our residents and peers.

South West



Ross is an avid runner and, since turning 60, has completed two London Marathons, one New York Marathon and 20 sprint triathlons, raising money in the process for charities such as Get Kids Going and NSPCC. Ross underwent surgery for a triple heart bypass in 2014, but undeterred still went on to compete in a triathlon just one year later. After receiving treatment for Prostate Cancer, Ross still regularly goes running and to the gym. He regularly works within the community, including raising awareness within the local media to the council about a local zebra crossing, driving the Patchway minibus for residents that needed support, and helping pupils at local schools with Maths.

Ross commented: “I was shocked when I found out I had been shortlisted for Inspirational Generation, but I am absolutely thrilled. Although I’m 83, I don’t see any need to slow down just yet; and I want to try and stay as active as possible and continue to enjoy running while I still can. I think it’s important to show that age is just a number and should not stop us from doing the things we enjoy!”




Having worked in local government for much of her working life, Edith wanted a step-change in retirement. She saw an article in her local newspaper about Stagecoach Performing Art School for children aged 4-18 years and decided that this was a venture she would like to be part of. Over the next twenty years of her retirement, she invested her time and money into the performing arts school. At any one time, the school would have around 50 students and would offer an hour each of dance, drama and singing.

Mrs Thornton, commented: “I decided to enter the search for the Inspirational Generation because I felt driven towards telling people of my age that there is a life out there after retirement and we must grab it! I think I am a deserving winner because I am setting an example to all retirees that keeping active is the way forward and the key to better health.

My life took a whole new turn after retirement. I was able to do something I truly loved that I hadn’t had the time to do before. I took great enjoyment from watching my pupils perform in professional shows like, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Half a Sixpence and Evita.

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my job was watching the students develop their self-confidence and communication skills. The younger generation have taught me to be more tolerant and to enjoy and appreciate their humour. Those students who have left Stagecoach Salisbury to pursue a life in theatre are thankful for my support throughout the years and I am so pleased that they are able to pursue a career in something they are passionate about.”




South East



Having only retired from her role as CEO at the Arun and Chichester Citizen’s Advice Bureau in January 2018, Carol remains chair of Friends of Mombasa Children – a charity she co-founded in 2003. Since its formation, the charity has held a variety of fundraising events in the UK to help children in Kenya escape the poverty trap through education.

Years of fundraising resulted in the charity buying land in Mombasa in 2006 and completing the construction of its first schools on the land by the end of the following year. The site, named Unity School, now caters for the education of 400 pupils and is recognised as one of the top schools in the Mombasa area.

However, Carol and the charity are not stopping there. Plans are already underway to build a purpose-built, brick facility to help educate even more children in the under-privileged area.

Carol Groves, Inspirational Generation finalist, said: “It’s a complete surprise to reach the finals of the competition. I knew that my mum had nominated me for it, but I really didn’t think I would get through all the entries! Especially when you consider all the fantastic causes people in our area are actively supporting.”

North London



After developing a love of flying aged nine, watching airwoman Amy Johnson at an airfield near her home, Jean joined the Women’s Royal Navy Service. When she began her career in flying, she had the honour being chosen to march in the Victory Parade in London. She then joined Flight Refuelling Ltd, and was involved in carrying out trials to refuel aircraft while airborne – a practice which is still used to this day. After winning a flying scholarship and making her first solo flight, Jean got married and travelled the world with her husband, who was a BEA captain – the airline is now known as British Airways. Jean and her husband continue to share a love for flying and each other.

Jean, commented: “I decided to enter the search for the Inspirational Generation because I took-up flying – my life-long passion – after watching the wonderful Amy Johnson, and I would love to inspire others the same way she inspired me. I think it’s important we recognise the achievements of older people because we achieve great things – both old and young – which should be recognised throughout our lives.”

West Midlands



Richard first began volunteering over 15 years ago, building schools in the poorest areas of Uganda. On behalf of Hopebuilders, a Northern Irish charity, Richard put his skills as a self-taught bricklayer to good use, helping to provide educational facilities that have changed the lives of thousands of Ugandan children. Despite suffering for many years with swollen and disfigured hands from arthritis, he was still able to lay bricks.

His skills have been passed onto former pupils who, after watching Richard and other volunteers, have built houses for the local community on land bought by the school. Over the years, Richard has also raised nearly £15,000 for all of the different school projects he has been involved with.

Mr Shreeve commented: “I decided to enter the search for the Inspirational Generation because my story has already inspired many people, and I wanted to continue to inspiring others to make a difference in the world by helping those less fortunate than ourselves. Many people of all age groups have spare time on their hands, and there will always be someone who could benefit from our help – either at home or abroad.

I think I am a deserving winner because I am passionate about helping others and encouraging the younger generation to get involved. I believe that we all have that innate ability within us for doing good and it just needs the right spark to activate it. Hopefully my story can provide that spark.”




East Midlands



Helen is an avid volunteer and, since turning 60, she has been involved with numerous projects, including running craft groups for Age UK and helping schoolchildren with their reading skills. She is a volunteer driver with Huntingdon Voluntary Drivers Scheme and even fits in the odd quiz night.

Helen, commented: “I’m one of the many active older people who are volunteering in some form or another so I decided to enter the search for the Inspirational Generation. When I thought of all of the many applications there must have been, I was taken aback to find out that I was shortlisted. I think that today there is a lack of awareness for how much older people contribute to the community and hopefully this will shine a spotlight and bring awareness for what older people can do.”

North West



Spending her life entering beauty competitions such as Miss Great Britain, Miss England, Miss UK and Miss British Isles, Joan was the first black beauty queen to be placed in the final of Miss United Kingdom in 1981. She still enters beauty competitions, winning Ms Greater Manchester Galaxy aged 60.

She loves the excitement that entering pageants brings to her life. No two days are the same and she enjoys meeting many new people. She believes that ‘beauty has no sell by date’ and never wants to give up on her dream, celebrating the success and beauty of older women.

Joan, commented: “I decided to enter the search for the Inspirational Generation because many women do not believe they are beautiful at any age, and I wanted to break that misconception. I love entering pageants, and was especially proud to represent my history on the stage. It is a great hobby for a single woman of my age looking to tick all the boxes, and I’ve met friends for life on the beauty circuit. I think I am a deserving winner because beauty has no age limit or sell by date.

“I think it’s important we recognise the achievements of older people because they have so much to give, and age does not define ambition, beauty or dreams, and my next ambition is to go to Miss Senior in the USA.”

North East (and National Winner)



Marjorie has enjoyed a successful sporting career spanning over 70 years. Her career started at the age of just 10 years old. A self-motivated, competitive and enthusiastic individual, Marjorie was determined to succeed. Marjorie would spend many hours travelling to get to her training venue, and with no funding available at the time for up-and-coming athletes, Marjorie worked in a mill full time to earn a living and fund her training.

Marjorie competed at two Olympic Games as part of the British gymnastics team - in 1952 she was part of a team of eight females at the Helsinki Olympics, and then in 1960 she was part of a team of six females at the Rome Olympics. Sadly they weren’t awarded with a medal, however to this day Marjorie will never forget the excitement of participating in the Olympic Games and how that is most important.

As a result of her own exceptional personal achievements within the sport, Marjorie was invited to teach gymnastics at Leeds Athletic Institute, which eventually lead to her becoming senior coach for Women’s Artistic Gymnastics for the City of Leeds. Marjorie travelled across most of Europe with the sport, training and developing gymnasts to represent Great Britain in International Gymnastradas in Berlin, Zurich, Herning and Amsterdam.

Over the years, Marjorie has dedicated her time to the development of gymnasts and raising awareness of the sport through popular training sessions, holiday camps for children and arranging regional competitions. When Marjorie chose to retire at 74, she continued to stay involved in gymnastics until 2015 and worked on a voluntary basis at Leeds Espirit Gymnastics Club, continuing to share her invaluable coaching and mentoring skills to both gymnasts and coaches. She has also been involved in many different talks in schools, on the radio and at Leeds Espirit, telling tales of her experiences at the Olympic Games.

Marjorie still continues to keep fit training three times a week at her local gym and enjoys trying her hand at the rings and bars when she can!




Simone believes that she has her Aunty Cathy to thank for making her what she is today, as she explains: “My Aunty Cathy is just simply the best. She has pulled everyone through lots of tricky family times and been our tower of strength – all whilst battling cancer and winning!

She’s always given me the best advice too. I didn’t ever do my best at school, but my Aunty Cathy told me to invest in myself and focus on what I could do. She encouraged me to get a job, get some experience and concentrate on getting myself up the career ladder.

Following her advice, I’ve started from the ground level and I’ve worked hard. I’ve just started a new job for a worldwide supply chain company and I’m just loving it.

Thanks to Aunty Cathy my future’s never been brighter, and I think she deserves to win for being my inspiration.”

TV and radio personality, Gloria Hunniford, performed guest judge duties for Inspirational Generation. She said:

"My congratulations go to all the winners for making a real impression on the judges. The standard of entries was exceptionally high. There is a clearly a generation of people out there who are living such fascinating and inspiring lives, and we can all learn from their energy, fortitude, and relentless passion for what they believe in.”
Gloria Hunniford

In a bid to find out more about what we believe is a truly inspirational generation, we polled 100 young people between the age of 5-18 to understand their feelings about their Grandparents. We wanted to know how much the younger generation knew about their elders.

of parents actively encourage their child(ren) to spend time with their Grandparent(s).
of children aged 5-18 live only 15 minutes away from their Grandparent(s).

Did the children surveyed know what their Grandparent(s) did for their main career?

Didn’t know
of 5-18 year olds have never spoken to their Grandparent(s) about their proudest achievements

Did those surveyed know if their Grandparent(s) have any specific talents or skills?

Didn’t know

Children thought their Grandparent(s) possessed the following skills:

of those surveyed admit they had never thought to ask their Grandparent(s) about their history or achievements...
...even though
of those surveyed say they see their Grandparent(s) once a week.

Children say they visit their Grandparent(s) for the following reasons:

Here at McCarthy Stone, we were surprised by the lack of knowledge that the younger generation had from their elder's achievements. Even though we may know about their colourful lives and heroic past, how often do grandchildren ask about their grandparents proudest moments?

With this in mind, we wanted to celebrate our Inspirational Generation’s stories and show everyone the heroism, strength and determination that can inspire us all. We asked parents, grandchildren and the community to ask their elders about their achievements and what they continue to do in their lives, so that we can give them the credit that they deserve.

We received hundreds of wonderful, inspirational stories submitted not only by individuals but by family, friends and the community. Thanks to these wonderful stories, we managed to crown our Inspirational Generation winner as well as celebrate 8 other winners across the UK.