Retirement at the age of 34 is not something that many people are fortunate enough to do. OK, so I was retired on medical grounds but whether you retire because you've made your personal fortune, inherited or won your personal fortune or are physically unable to carry out your employment duties you are left in a similar position. You have to think about exactly what you are going to do with the rest of your life.

I have to say that my working life was slightly unfulfilled. In the main I was not mentally challenged at all. I had little job satisfaction and spent the majority of my time (in all 4 posts) being bored. This is not to say there weren't good days because there were. I had busy days, enjoyable days and occasionally I even looked forward to going into work! I made many good friends along the way and I gained satisfaction from having somewhere to go and somewhere to come back from every day for 15 years.

However, stimulating and enjoyable in the main it was not. Looking back now I think the reason I felt so unfulfilled was that I was a very small cog in a very big wheel. I worked in the MoD for 15 years in 5 different locations for 4 different units yet 99.9% of what the Mod did remains completely unknown to me.

I had always had medical retirement in the back of my mind since I was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia in 1993 (this was about one third of the way through my 'career') The thought had never come to the front of my mind until I had an appointment at Woking Community Hospital with a disability consultant called Dr McCluskie. He asked me how I was getting on at work so I told him 'I'm bored and unfulfilled, I wish I was at home where I have everything the way I want it and where I have internet access' I said. He replied 'You sound an ideal candidate for medical retirement'. That was all I had to do really, I spoke to my boss at work and my work colleagues and one year later I was retired.

Obviously I had to do it through all the official channels but Dr McCluskie said all the right things and wrote all the right letters to the right people. I receive 2 pensions, one from the MoD (1987-1997) and one from Sodexho (1997 & onwards). When retiring on medical grounds my pension rules and regulations with Sodexho stated that I was entitled to a pension based on my years of employment up to normal retirement age (65). I did well preserving my MoD pension in 1997 when my employment was switched by the MoD. Sodexho's pension rules and regs are better than civil service rules and regs.

So what do I do with my life now? Well, as soon as I stopped working (Feb 2003 - I had to do a period of 6 months on sick leave to qualify for a pension) I made a conscious decision to keep both my mind and body active as they had always been up to then. I thought it a good idea to start visiting a gym once a week to keep the 'body' side of this self-discipline statement.. Following referrals from my GP and then the physiotherapy department of Frimley Park Hospital It was recommended that I visit a gym called 'Tone to the bone' in Frimley Green. My Personal fitness instructor (Andy) took these pictures in January 2004. They show me using three of the machines he has in the gym. I need help getting on the machines but once there I gain full benefit from them as you can see: .

Exercising the biceps... ...the shoulders... ...and the leg muscles.

Unfortunately this gym was closed down in October 2011. I searched around for an alternative gym but could not find one that offered similar conditions and expert tuition. I had seen a medi-motion cycle at a friends house the previous month and chose to hire one for an initial 3 month period soon after I stopped going to then gym. I am using it in the two photos below. I require a PA to fix my feet firmly into the straps around the pedals but once my feet are in place I can control the motion using the screen in front of me. The cycle is controlled electronically. I warm up for 5 minutes allowing the cycle to control the movement of my legs, then I cycle for 20 minutes pushing the pedals round by myself (with the motor only helping to a small degree). I finish with a 5 minute warm down. I then do 10 minutes with the arm cycle. It is a fully active exercise system (for both arms and legs, although only leg cycle shown) and is used worldwide by people with limited mobility. Not only does it improve my general blood circulation but it encourages the brain signals to my legs which in turn can lead to an improvement in muscle tone. With MOTOmed Movement Therapy I can at the very least experience safe, enjoyable and effective exercise. Read more about this MOTOmed Movement Therapy System here. (Opens new window)


So that's how I keep my body active (well, that's all I'm revealing on here!) So what about keeping my mind active? Well, for many, many years I have known that my future lies in IT and in Web Design in particular. It has always been an interest to me and above all - I enjoy it! Since having the time to concentrate on this I have learnt how to create and publish my own sites as well as edit sites already there. I decided to become self employed in December 2004. Click here for more details.