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‘Learning doesn’t stop when you retire’ - How Patsy found a new lease of life with NWRC’s community courses

22 September 2022
NWRC Community2604227
<p>Patsy O'Kane has been taking classes in I.T. at the </p>

Patsy O'Kane has been taking classes in I.T. at the

I would tell anyone like me to go for it – forget about the word no. I decided that retirement was going to be the start of my life, I would do all these things I’d never done before and spend more time with my grandchildren. I’ve also taken up swimming lessons and sewing classes.

Patsy O'Kane
Student of Community Education at NWRC

A North West Regional College student who took up community classes following her retirement is encouraging others to consider taking a course at their local centre.

Patsy O’Kane spent 30 years of her career running the beautiful Beech Hill Hotel in Derry~Londonderry. During her time there she hosted a succession of famous guests that included Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, John Carey, Will Ferrell, and Stephen Rea.

When retirement beckoned in 2019, Patsy struggled with how quickly her life slowed down. After three decades of running one of the North West’s most successful hotels, Patsy found retirement and letting go, difficult.

But after enrolling in NWRC’s community courses Patsy has found a new lease of life in computing and horticulture.

And she’s encouraging others thinking of taking up a part-time class to “forget about the word no” and just go for it.

She said: “I started my community course in IT at the Cathedral Youth Club in September 2021. I knew bits and pieces about computing. I could answer an email, but I couldn’t do anything more complicated. I wanted to know more about online purchasing, social media, and YouTube. “

Patsy retired in 2019, just a few months before lockdown.

“Retirement was difficult for me,” she said. “It was difficult to let go. The Beech Hill was my life for 30 years and I was passionate about what I did.

“I was someone who was always constantly planning and checking things and signing things off and suddenly it all stopped. Retirement was almost like a trauma – it was such a shock. I decided that I had to do something about it.

“I wanted to do something, and then the pandemic happened. Firstly, I got involved doing Tay Chi on zoom, then nutrition classes with activity and exercise, and then I enrolled on the Level 2 in Horticulture at NWRC online. I persevered with it and made great friends on the course. I was the most inexperienced, but I kept at it.

“Then I heard about the computer classes run by NWRC’s community team at the Cathedral Youth club. Jeannette Warke made me feel so welcome and George my tutor was brilliant. Most of us on the course were retired and some were more experienced with computers than others. I learned things I never thought I would like YouTube and buying items online.

“In fact, the IT and the Horticulture worked hand in hand because once I got the hang of YouTube I was able to use it to research my gardening and nutrition. My class also taught me about podcasts which I use for mindfulness which I find very beneficial

“I would tell anyone like me to go for it – forget about the word no. I decided that retirement was going to be the start of my life, I would do all these things I’d never done before and spend more time with my grandchildren. I’ve also taken up swimming lessons and sewing classes.

“Sleep well and eat well you will have a healthy life that’s my motto.”

John Heuston from NWRC’s community education team said: “NWRC offers learning at community partners in venues throughout Derry~Londonderry, Limavady and Strabane.

"At our College, we strive to provide quality education and training for everyone, and many of the courses we offer provide the knowledge and skills you may need to develop your career, while other options can give you the chance to learn a new skill, meet new friends and enjoy a rewarding learning experience. These courses enable individuals and small groups to undertake short courses in areas including Essential Skills, GCSEs, Return to Study, and Hobby & Special Interest.

"You can view our course guide online at https://www.nwrc.ac.uk/study/c... If you find a course that interests you, please contact the relevant community centre for further details or contact our community team.

“We look forward to welcoming our students to their chosen course of learning this year and wish them every success.”

For more information go to www.nwrc.ac.uk/community

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