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Have time, will travel


Deirdre Gittens

Have time, will travel

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For 62-year-old retiree Heather Hill, travelling is a passion. So while planning her retirement with her husband, she knew that travelling would “have to be a rule” for them.
Heather Hill, who retired at the age of 60, explained that when she started working she never thought about retirement, but when she reached her mid-30s, she started to plan with her husband.
“We had the same ideas, so we planned when we were working to buy this house and never to remortgage it, because we both wanted to retire at 60 and we didn’t want to be paying for the mortgage or car. So about five years before we retired, everything had been paid for.”
She added, “When people talk about planning for retirement, it is a reality because you have to . . . . A lot of people don’t actually think about it, so when the time comes they are not going to be ready!”
Hill explained that travelling during their retirement would be a necessity, not only to visit her family, most of whom live overseas, but also to “get away from being home all the time”.
“My husband was fortunate to be working at a company where he won about 6 cruises, so we cruised all over – New Mexico, the Caribbean . . . . Most of my family lives in the States, so I’m always there, but when I retired I knew I wasn’t going to stay home because I’m an outdoors person and I like to travel.”
Nonetheless, before she retired in 2010, Hill spent 33 years at the Pan American Health Organization as executive secretary, a post that required lots of travelling and was the “highlight of my career”.
“I actually enjoyed working there simply because every day was different and had different situations to deal with – the job was never boring and I’m not a boring person. I’m not an inside person at all – I like to do all kinds of things.”
Hill said that while working at PAHO she met people from places such as Africa, China and even Haiti, although she never visited those countries.
Hill, who travels about three times a year, said she had just returned from New Jersey and had plans of travelling to Boston in September, and possibly to London later with her 24-year-old son.
She added that she didn’t always travel with her husband. Hill explained that although her husband loves to sit and watch television, she is not a “TV person” and hates to be inside.
“I get up at five every morning even though I’m not going to work. I do my prayers and devotions, go into the garden, make breakfast, and by nine I’m on the streets. I like to go outside and go into town and see what’s going on.”
Hill, who is a member of Bonsai Barbados, explained that she enjoys attending gardening shows, and she and her husband frequently attend Open Houses, but when she’s not doing that she is managing her duties as the parish assistant at the St Leonard’s Church.
“The Canon asked if I would consider working there and I said I would think about it but having seen how things were going at the church when the office assistant passed away, after I retired I said it was something I could do because it would get me out the house.”
She added, “I actually felt a responsibility to give back to the church because it’s a very important part of my life and as a children we would have to go down and sweep, polish the brass and close up the church – so working there isn’t anything foreign to me.”
Although the job only requires her to go in four days a week for a few hours, Hill, who has been there since 2011, explained she’s there “24/7”.
“There’s always so much to do and several things to be put in place because at our church we’re very busy and we have lots of programmes and community projects, so something happens at the church literally every day.”
However, she explained that it has been a learning experience but somewhat different since she needs to do everything herself.
“At PAHO because I was in charge I had several assistants to direct and, especially in the last two years, I was more instructing than doing so now I have to do everything myself because there are no assistants,” she laughed.

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