Derry woman finds ‘life starts after retirement’ with NWRC

Patsy O’Kane has found a new love for life after retiring from her career running the beautiful Beech Hill Hotel in Derry, where she worked for 30 years.

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. 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 but then the pandemic happened.

Patsy O'Kane has found that classes in NWRC have given her a new love for life after retiring from her job of 30 years.

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“Firstly, I got involved doing Tai 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. I started my community course in IT 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. 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.

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Patsy O'Kane with Jeannette Warke at the Cathedral Youth Club, where Patsy has been taking computer classes.

“Sleep well and eat well and 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, 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.

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“You can view our course guide online at www.nwrc.ac.uk/study/course-guide. 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 visit www.nwrc.ac.uk/community.