Life

Monday 16 September 2019

Meet the teacher who retired - and then worked for another 12 years

'It's important to have plenty of mental stimulation when getting older and I have always loved the social interactions involved in work'

Retired teacher Kris Bridges from Dublin who went back to the workforce. Photo: Mark Condren
Retired teacher Kris Bridges from Dublin who went back to the workforce. Photo: Mark Condren

Alan O'Keeffe

Kris Bridges worked for almost 12 years after she retired.

"It's important to have plenty of mental stimulation when getting older and I have always loved the social interactions involved in work," said Kris (73).

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A vocational school teacher with a passion for educating young people, she spent many years working in curriculum and course development for the old City of Dublin VEC and other bodies.

She retired at 59 on health grounds with a pension after 36 years' service. She began working again at 61 after her health improved.

Ms Bridges began undertaking a succession of short-term contracts, working for educational bodies, VECs and for FAS, chiefly on course development around the country. She did much of her work from her home in Dublin.

"When I worked with the VEC, they paid me and deducted tax. But with FAS I had to go in as a contractor and give a quote for what I wanted to be paid for a certain amount of work.

"The money came with no tax deducted, so I was responsible for declaring this and paying tax to revenue. That's a big learning curve for somebody who has never worked for themselves.

"I had to employ an accountant to know how to deal with my taxes as a self-employed person. It's a big leap," she said.

Kris lives in Iveagh Gardens in Crumlin and her daughter and two teenage grandchildren live with her.

Born in England, she chose to come to Dublin to study biochemistry at Trinity College in the 1960s because of the Irish capital's cosmopolitan reputation. She remained in Ireland, got married, and became an Irish citizen.

She taught maths and science in Ballyfermot VEC and later was seconded to the National Council for Vocational Awards.

Her post-retirement work involved going into the offices of FAS once a week. "I liked that because it involved going back into a working situation where you meet other staff members," she said.

"It was social and I was back being part of a work community.

"I turned 70 in 2015 and worked for two more years. I loved the work, but I began to find it physically harder to travel into the office, physically harder to sit for four or six hours to do the work. "Eventually I said to myself I've done enough," she added.

"I had been a bit blase about the extra money but now I miss it for discretionary spending.

"A big thing about retiring is banks will not lend you money easily. The only place I get my loans from is my credit union," she said.

"Working past retirement meant mental stimulation and working in education. I was always passionate about education," she said.

"Going back to work full time can be hard going," she said.

"It's more about following what interests you. I do maths grinds locally and I've always enjoyed working with teenagers. They sit at my dining table," she said.

She also teaches knitting.

"I teach knitting at Powerscourt Townhouse at 'This Is Knit' - some evenings. I get to teach the beginners. I enjoy it. I go once a year to a festival in Maine to teach Aran knitting," she said.

"Now I play bridge and I'm learning Polish and I have my allotment where I grow peas, beans, beetroot, sweetcorn, fennel, courgettes, kale, blackcurrants and raspberries. I have good friends who have plots nearby.

"And I've been on a residents' committee and the allotments' committee.

"I think that the most important thing for old people is actually to stay connected to other people. It's about social interaction. I'm in three book clubs.

"It's not so much the books, the bridge, the allotment. They're all great to do, but it's lovely to meet with people. And I know research shows it's the really important thing for older people.

"I would encourage retired people to go and do something, go to work if they are able, or be in a book club or maybe head down to the allotments," she said.

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