At 71, Nick Long, from Blackpool, retired from a long career in the brewing industry, where he was working up to seven days a week. The first six months of retirement offered him the chance to rest and recharge his batteries, but it wasn’t too long before the boredom set in…
As someone who enjoys being busy, Nick knew he needed a new reason to get out of bed everyday and keep himself active, so he spent the next two years searching for his next opportunity. Even when the doubt set in about whether that opportunity would ever arrive, his fierce determination and sense of self-worth kept him going. Today at 77, Nick works as a Customer Advisor for Halifax Community Bank and has put all thoughts of retirement behind him.
“I’m a fairly determined person and I wasn’t going to give up - it’s as simple as that. I just kept going and kept trying”
After working in a high-powered Operations role with a national brewery for over two decades, Nick began to feel that his lack of interview offers was based less on his lack of suitability for the role and more on his age. During his time at the brewery, Nick was responsible for 250 pub tenants, as well as managing six of his own outlets, which were a mixture of pubs, bars and restaurants. So he found it difficult to accept that with so much experience, he was struggling to be given a chance.
He explains, “To me it was quite clear why I was being turned down because some of the positions that I applied for, I was more than qualified for. It was challenging trying to keep focussed and optimistic because although I knew what my abilities were, I wasn’t confident that I would be able to secure a position. I realised that it would rely on a company not taking as much notice of my age and focusing more on my ability.”
“But I’m a fairly determined person and I wasn’t going to give up – it’s as simple as that. I just kept going and kept trying. There were obviously times when it went through my mind that I wouldn’t get a job. In fact my wife said more than once ‘Why do you keep going? Because no one is going to give you a job,’ And I just told her that I had to keep trying. I was seriously, seriously bored at home and I couldn’t carry on like that.”
Of all the roles he applied for, Nick was only invited to one interview with Halifax Community Bank and his two-year job search came to an end when he was offered a role as a Customer Advisor.
“I love customer service because it’s what I’ve done all my life. We see a real mix of people - from vulnerable people to unemployed people through to very wealthy people - so it’s a varied and interesting role”
Having worked in the customer service industry for over 30 years, Nick was excited by the idea of returning to work in a people-focussed role once again. In April 2018, he stepped out of retirement and back into work and hasn’t looked back since. Although Nick had never worked in a bank before, he’s since found many parallels between his new role and his former career.
He says, “I love customer service because it’s what I’ve done all my life. We see a real mix of people, as I did in the pub business – from vulnerable people to unemployed people through to very wealthy people – so it’s a varied and interesting role. I’m usually stationed either at the counter or in the banking hall and I get to have some great conversations. My role is primarily about directing people and helping them with their enquiries, but people do get talking to you about their lives too.”
“I’ve got a lot of customer service experience and I’m quite confident that other staff members – even ones who have been here a long time – could, or probably have, learnt something from me. Running pubs, I encountered problems with drunks, drugs and aggression and believe me you get the same in a bank! I’m probably the go-to person when a difficult customer comes in and the situation needs to be diffused.”
“I think working and meeting new people keeps you young. I could work less if I wanted to, but right now I’m happy. I still have time to do other things I enjoy like reading, walking and watching sports!”
The married dad-of-four and granddad-of-twelve admits that friends and customers have often been surprised to see him working at the age of 77 – but are supportive all the same. But for Nick it isn’t a problem because he enjoys the nature of his work and feels it’s keeping him young, both mentally and physically. Nick is also enjoying working in a role where the learning never stops, although he says at times it can be a challenge to keep up!
He explains, “I see so many people who are younger than me but look and act older and I think that’s often down to mental state. I think working and meeting new people keeps you young. I could work less if I wanted to, but right now I’m happy. I still have time to do other things I enjoy like reading, walking and watching sport! I also have a lot of family. One of my son’s lives in Australia with my three grandchildren, so my wife and I are going to visit them in March. I’m really looking forward to it.”
“My advice to anyone else thinking about taking on a new role, would be to give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, you can always move on. But unless you try, you’ll never know…”
Nick couldn’t be more grateful for the help that his colleagues have shown him over the last two years and how welcome they have made him feel during his return to the workforce. He plans to keep working for as long as he can, with the hope that he will never stop working altogether, but that he will gradually reduce his hours in order to build something outside of work that he can give his time to instead.
He continues, “I don’t look too far into the future because who knows where I might be in five to ten years – I might not even be on this planet! At the moment I’m just grateful to be fit, healthy and thoroughly enjoying what I do. My advice to anyone else thinking about taking on a new role, would be to give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, you can always move on. But unless you try, you’ll never know. That and perseverance – in my case perseverance was key. Just don’t give up!”