YourLIFE: Our Lives Began at 50; MANY PEOPLE SLOW DOWN WHEN THEY HIT HALF A CENTURY BUT NOT OUR FIVE HUMAN DYNAMOS. THEIR LIVES HAVE DEFINITELY TAKEN TURNS FOR THE BETTER
Byline: BY MADELEINE BAILEY
I got on my bike for cancer
LAST October Sue Young, 50, a call-centre operator from West Kingsdown, Kent, cycled nearly 400 miles and raised pounds 5,000 for cancer patients. Sue is married to Tony, 47, a communications engineer, and has two children, James, 15 and Nicole, 13.
WHEN Dad died in 1990 from cancer of the lymph glands, he'd asked for his ashes to be scattered on Table Mountain. He'd fallen in love with South Africa after visiting my brother, who lives in Cape Town.
I couldn't travel there to see the ashes scattered as I was pregnant, but when I saw an ad for the Macmillan Cancer Support 2005 challenge it seemed like my chance to go there and also help cancer sufferers.
I was approaching 50 and needed to achieve something just for me - as a mum it's easy to lose a sense of your own identity. So I registered and began training last spring. My life went on hold. When I wasn't working or cycling I'd be collecting money at village fairs or outside supermarkets.
The cycle ride was 600km in eight days. The tracks were so bumpy it felt like you were holding on to a pneumatic drill. The wind blew dust in your face in 80-degree heat. But I compared my discomfort to the real suffering of people with cancer and that spurred me on.
It's given me lots of confidence. When Nicole had to write an essay about someone she admired, she chose me. I was so touched. I'm planning another challenge in 2007. Age isn't a barrier, it's just in the mind."
Macmillan Cancer Support: www.macmillan.org.uk 020 7840 7875.
Fear drove me to be a novelist
WHEN financial disaster hit her family, Betty Maura-Cooper, 73, of Hay-on-Wye, Powys, discovered a talent for writing. Betty has four grown-up children.
AT 49 my husband's business collapsed and we lost everything. A week later he had a massive heart attack due to the stress. He survived but was unable to work again so I got a job as a secretary.
Then I read a magazine article about women who were making thousands from writing Mills & Boon novels and I thought: "I could do that." So, driven by fear and determination, I began to write a novel in the evenings and at weekends.
My first two attempts were rejected. Then I heard that Robert Hale published short romantic books so I edited the first novel and they accepted it.
Called Just Dreams, it was published in 1990 under my pseudonym Marigold West. Seeing it in print was incredibly exciting.
Two years later my second novel, Truth To Tell, was published, followed by my third, Echoes Of Another Love. Since then I've written lots of short stories for women's magazines.
After Donald died in 1992, my son Jason and I set up a holiday home for walkers, which we ran for four years. Now I'm back in full swing and working on a crime mystery.
Writing hasn't just paid the bills, it's given a new dimension to my life. But despite joining cupidbay.com, an online dating site - I haven't considered re-marrying.
Donald was a hard act to follow.
My job's to diet for
CHRISTINE Squire, 55, from Bexleyheath, Kent, went from being a couch potato to a Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Club leader. She's married to businessman Peter, 60 and has two grown-up sons.
HEALTH problems throughout my 40s and a job in my husband's bakery did nothing for my waistline - at 5ft 8ins I weighed 14st and was a size 20.
I joined the Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Club and lost 4 stones in 18 months, but I still needed a challenge. I was approaching 50 and thinking: "What have I done with my life?" So when I saw an ad to be a Rosemary Conley group leader I applied and was accepted for training. Afterwards, I was chuffed to find out only two per cent of applicants get that far.
I cashed in an endowment policy to buy the franchise. …