Octogenarian still puts in hard day's work

Inaction just isn't a part of Barry Brown's vocabulary.

At 80 years old, while many people of his vintage play cards and venture out on social outings, Mr Brown clocks on at 6am each morning, ready for his working day.

Despite being officially retired Mr Brown still plays an active role at Wollongong Drum Master, the oil drum recycling business he established 20 years ago.

"I'm just not the sort of person who can sit at home," he said.

"My son Peter runs the business so I just go out to give him support ... I get the place opened and I get it ready for when the guys get to work."

On any given day, the IRT Links Seaside resident can be found advising staff, supervising the steam boiler or performing odd jobs around the Woonona site.

The work is the perfect way to satisfy his "itchy feet" and avoid boredom.

"I don't consider that I'm fit but, by gee, I'm healthy and most certainly it keeps the old brain box as good as ever - and that, I consider, is the most important thing," he said.

Mr Brown said the work had had a positive effect on his 59-year marriage to childhood sweetheart Margot, allowing them to have their own "space" and time to enjoy their hobbies.

He plans to continue working for the foreseeable future, despite what anyone else thinks.

"My wife is sick and tired of going crook at me [telling me], 'You should be stopping home!', but I have a day off whenever I want to have a day off and my friends, well, I don't care what they think," he said.

"I'll just take it as it comes. The end's not in sight but if and when I feel any effects or that I should give it away, I will."

Living an active, fulfilling life is the key theme of this week's NSW Seniors Week activities.

Seniors are invited to attend events in the Illawarra, including light exercise and dance classes, art exhibitions, film screenings and information sessions.

People aged 55 years and over make up 16 per cent of the labour force, compared with about 10 per cent in 1980, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The participation rate of Australians in the workforce aged 55 and over has risen from 25 per cent to 34 per cent in the past 30 years.

Snapshot of NSW Seniors Week events in the Illawarra

All week

• Live Life! Seniors Week art exhibition showcasing the work of talented senior artists from the Illawarra at Project Contemporary Artspace, Keira St, Wollongong.

• Looking Forward, Looking Back  contemporary art exhibition curated for Seniors Week at Project Contemporary Artspace, Keira St, Wollongong.

• Skydiving at Skydive the Beach and Beyond, Stuart Park, Wollongong, 6am-4pm (except Friday 21, 6am-3.45pm). Cost for seniors card holders: $259 midweek, $309 weekend.

Monday

• Ballroom dancing roadshow at IRT Links Seaside, Wollongong, 10am-11.30am.

• Tech savvy seniors workshop at WEA Illawarra, Auburn St, Wollongong, 10am.

• UnitingCare BIG MOVE dance against dimentia event at UnitingCare Village Hall,  Waples Rd, Unanderra, 10.30-11.30am.

• Positive Ageing information session on managing medication and movement at Warilla Library, Lake Entrance Rd, Warilla, 10.30am-12.30pm. Bookings recommended.

• U3A Mini Movie Festival featuring Australian movies with a historical and national identity theme at Wollongong Salvation Army Building, Burelli St, Wollongong, 9.30am-12.30pm. Bookings recommended.

• Dancing, Thai Chi and craft activities at Oak Flats Senior Citizens Hall, Griffiths St, Oak Flats, 9.30am-3pm.

Tuesday

• Live cooking classes, gardening, Thai Chi and other activities open to mature-aged Housing Trust members at The Housing Trust, Smith St, Wollongong, 10am-2pm. A free lunch will be provided for all guests. 

• Seniors Week photographic exhibition at Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space, Wentworth St, Shellharbour, 10am-3pm.

• Carpet bowls at Heininger Hall, Princes Hwy, Dapto, 8am-12.pm.

• Dancing, Thai Chi and craft activities at Oak Flats Senior Citizens Hall, Griffiths St, Oak Flats, 9.30am-5pm.

Wednesday

• Living Well, Ageing Better event showcasing Italian food, music, dance and DVD screening of stories told by seniors who remain active through gardening at Centro CBD, Stewart St, Wollongong, 12-4pm. Bookings essential, cost $25.

• Tai Chi Carnival at Coniston Community Centre, Bridge St, Coniston, 10am-1.30pm.

• Inter-generational skills exchange between seniors and Cringila Primary School students including social media and gardening at Cringila Public School, Sheffield Street, Cringila, 9.45am-2pm. Bookings recommended.

• Seniors Week photographic exhibition at Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space, Wentworth St, Shellharbour, 10am-3pm.

•  Northern Illawarra U3A Open Day featuring a presentation, debate, film screening and lecture at Thirroul Community Centre, Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul, 9.30am-6pm.

• Social card playing at Laurel Room, Heininger House, Princes Hwy, Dapto, 9.30am-2.30pm.

•  Dancing, Thai Chi and craft activities at Oak Flats Senior Citizens Hall, Griffiths St, Oak Flats, 9am-5pm.

Thursday

• Seniors Week photographic exhibition at Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space, Wentworth St, Shellharbour, 10am-3pm.

• U3A Mini Movie Festival featuring Australian movies with a historical and national identity theme at Wollongong Salvation Army Building, Burelli St, Wollongong, 9.30am-12.30pm. Bookings recommended.

• Dancing, Thai Chi and craft activities at Oak Flats Senior Citizens Hall, Griffiths St, Oak Flats, 9am-4.45pm.

Friday

• Positive Ageing information session on managing medication and movement at Wollongong Library, Burelli St, Wollongong, 10am-12pm. Bookings recommended.

•  Seniors Week photographic exhibition at Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space, Wentworth St, Shellharbour, 10am-3pm.

• Multicultural seniors luncheon and expo at the Fraternity Club, Bourke St, Fairy Meadow,  9.30am-2pm. Cost: $18.

• Seniors Grow, Eat and Cook workshop at Dapto Community Farm, Darkes Rd, Dapto, 10am-2pm. Bookings essential.

• Dancing, Thai Chi and craft activities at Oak Flats Senior Citizens Hall, Griffiths St, Oak Flats, 10am-3pm.

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