GENERATION AGELESS: KEVIN DORAN

For Kevin Doran, 65, life is all about being active and getting out on his bike. He lives at home with his wife Jacky and has two recently-married daughters.
Kevin Doran on bike

We’re talking to people who have made interesting life/work changes and have a positive attitude to mid-life, doing things differently, changing their pace of life, their priorities, reflecting in what’s gone before and the new opportunities and challenges to come.

I AM…

Kevin Doran. 65 years old. Married to Jacky for 42 years. I have two daughters in their early thirties – both recently married.

I used to do this…

Teaching in a variety of primary schools in Newcastle and Gateshead then headteacher of Fellside Primary in Whickham.

Being a headteacher is an enormous privilege. I felt a deep sense of responsibility to the community the school served. A headteacher’s role is more than just leadership; effectively it’s quality assurance. Ensuring every child has the best possible teachers, learning experiences and above all, fun. The greatest accolade was the 2007 Ofsted report which included: “Pupils love school, and as parents reported, jump for joy on school days.” What more could one ask for?

I loved my job. I worked long and hard with a fantastic team, supportive parents and fabulous children. I cycled a sixteen mile return commute almost every day for eight years. I reckon I climbed that hill to Whickham about 1,500 times! I held many a before school (and before shower!) meeting still in Lycra cycling gear with parents and staff.

I retired from headship at 57. On the day I informed parents of my decision one mum asked me “Kevin, why are you leaving, it’s fantastic here?” My response was “I’m leaving because it’s fantastic here.” Keeping any organisation at the top is very hard work and I’m a great believer in getting the hell out while the going’s good!

From 2010 to last year I worked part time in the school improvement services of a number of North East local authorities. I was also involved at a national level in headteacher training. Oh and I’ve worked through Tyne Tees Models on a number of photo shoots. That’s different! Inevitably I get ‘Why were you in Farmers’ Weekly? Is that really you on Northumbrian Water’s website. How are you the face of International Yacht Paints?’ Hilarious! I get quite a lot of ‘active old bloke roles’.

Now life is about…

Cycling, walking, rowing, motor cycling, skiing, going to the gym, fishing, cooking, eating, drinking, travelling, spending lots of summer time in our beach shack on the gorgeous Northumberland coast, having fun with Jacky, our girls and their great blokes, time with friends and more…

WHY/HOW I MADE A CHANGE…

I retired because I could! Both our girls had finished university, had partners (now husbands), graduate level employment, houses of their own and our mortgage was all but paid up and I had loads of things I wanted to do.

Kevin Doran paddleboardFAMILY IS ALL ABOUT…

Having fun together, being close, supportive and loving. It’s not necessary to be geographically close. We have family in Hong Kong, China and British Columbia, Canada. Our girls have travelled extensively – as I write this our elder daughter is on honeymoon in California. Jacky and I are OK with ‘distant daughters’ as long as we know they’re safe, healthy and happy. We’ve had a few scary moments but thank goodness for WhatsApp and Facetime.

They’re both now living in Northumberland and yes we are delighted that they’ve not decided to live in New Zealand or Hawaii!

I’ve got time for…

Cramming as much into every day as I possibly can. There’s never a day when I think ‘I’m at a loose end, what am I going to do today?’ We have three properties which take some time with maintenance. I’m reasonably handy with DIY stuff. We recently bought some woodland in Northumberland so I can cut down trees, plant more and generally have fun in the woods. We’re so busy we’ve had to shed a flat we owned in Newcastle and can’t keep on top of the allotment any more. And then there’s the cycling, rowing, walking, gym…etc.

I’m lucky I can…

By and large do what I want. One can make reasonably accurate predictions about pensions, property, financial affairs etc. Predicting future health, life expectancy etc. is way more tricky. I’m lucky that I’m fit enough to do virtually everything I want to.

I’m super fortunate to be married to Jacky. We do so many things together, Jacky having fully retired last March.

I’m well aware that almost everything I do in retirement requires me to be fit and healthy and Jacky’s support is so important. That’s scary. What if I’m sick, injured? What if…let’s not go there.

Things are different because…

There’s no imperative to be somewhere at a particular time every working day. No rush in the morning, though I’m often awake by 6am and still get up before eight most days. Having been tied to taking school holidays for 35 years we now go away any time outside school holidays.

I have time for solo bike trips. Since retiring from full time work I’ve made journeys through England and Scotland and a couple of thousand mile trips: Land’s End to John O’Groats and to St Raphael on the Cote d’Azur. Jacky and I make a tour in Europe each year on our tandem. I get a couple of weeks skiing in the Alps each year, avoiding UK and French school holidays. One week is always a family holiday with the girls and their blokes. They’re still keen to come with Mum and Dad… probably because we provide the chalet!

Day in the life of me…

A leisurely, light breakfast most days. The full English every Sunday. There may be household stuff to do, food shopping, a weekly ‘Hoovering’. Bizarrely I really enjoy shopping for food. The kitchen is my space and I have always done all the cooking. I enjoy it and find it relaxing. Even when working, I prepared a meal every night, often eating late. We hardly ever eat anything pre-prepared or processed.

Lunch doesn’t figure much in our lives. I find a long lunch gets in the way of doing stuff.

There’s got to be something physical: out on the bike, a walk in the hills, rowing my boat – you’ll be getting the picture by now. In the winter I’m at the gym near our Newcastle home at least three times a week. I’ve been a member for 18 years.

The people who are important…

Jacky, our girls, the wider family and we have some great friends.

Work/life balance?

There’s no work/life balance. It’s all life!

I thrive on…

Being physically active. I’m basically like a dog needing to be let off the lead every day.

Mid life means to me…

Midlife is an increasingly distant memory!

Seaham Hall

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