Friendship group encourages retirees to stay active

A couple who became internet sensations in retirement have partnered with the Oddfellows to encourage others to seek out the joy in retirement.

It comes after a survey by the friendship group revealed 39% of retirees report an emotional dip post-work.

While retirement should be a time to enjoy life, research 1 commissioned by the Oddfellows – the UK’s largest and oldest friendly society – found that a third of retirees have had to work through negative feelings such as loneliness, boredom and a reduced sense of identity and purpose.

But Joan and Jimmy O’Shaughnessy, who have amassed more than 4million followers on social media, say retirees should take a leaf out of their book and grab opportunities to avoid loneliness and boredom setting in.

Joan, 70, said: “It’s easy to see retirement as a target to work towards. You work all your life until you reach this magic number and then you just take it easy and slow down.

“But for us it has always been a time for opportunity, to try new things and focus on enjoyment rather than work. We never guessed that we would be doing this, but we wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t continued to challenge ourselves!”

Jimmy and Joan, from Southport, learned to dance 25 years ago, becoming British and English Champions in formation dancing. But it was their new passion for TikTok which has been their most unexpected benefit of retirement. Not only have they travelled the globe as the ‘twojays2’, but they can also count David Beckham and Beyonce’s mother among their fans.

Joan added said: “We’ve had this amazing, unexpected adventure and we are loving every minute of it, but it wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t had the right attitude towards trying something new.”

Jimmy, 71, took early retirement aged 52, but has volunteered his time extensively for local charities and as Chairman of Hillside Golf Club in Southport. He said: “The important thing to remember is that your retirement can be whatever you want it to be. I do believe putting time and thought into it makes it easier – but it’s never too late, it’s about seizing opportunities and making the most of them.”

The survey of 1,800 UK adults aged over 55 found that 66% of retirees who said they felt bored said this happened within the first year, and a third (34%) in just three months. Having too much time on their hands (64%), a lack of motivation or purpose (61%) and no daily routine (50%) where all named as triggers for retirement boredom setting in.

Jane Nelson, CEO of the Oddfellows, a non-profit organisation which helps older adults forge new friendships and supports almost 40,000 members nationally at its branches, said: “From the get-go, retirement should afford you more time to focus on yourself and what you enjoy. But this time needs to have structure and purpose, or it can become problematic.

“We’ve seen this with new members to our friendship groups, how they’ve found the early stages of retirement tricky to navigate as former routines fall away and their everyday contact with people outside of the home drops.

“While most people plan financially, they may not factor in ensuring that their emotional and social needs are kept stimulated after leaving work. The impact of this can’t be underestimated.”

Jane added: “Our study shows, if left unchecked, the result is often boredom which can lead to individuals feeling lonely and isolated. Feelings which can have more serious physical and mental health implications.”

While there are a lot of reasons to slow down in retirement, Joan and Jimmy say it’s a time to stop and think about yourself and what you enjoy as an individual or couple.

Jimmy explained: “We feel like life is there to be lived, not endured, and if you’re not enjoying yourself then find something that you can enjoy, even if it’s just something to look forward to for half an hour a week, and volunteering is a good way to do that.”

He added: “Social groups like the Oddfellows are fantastic because it’s very easy to get involved with – you can just go along and say hello. It’s a ready-made friendship group and the events they offer can provide you with some routine as well as opportunities to try something new.”

Joan added: “If you spend some time thinking about what you will enjoy and finding something that supports that, whether it’s a friendship group, a sports club or a hobby, you’ll then be more motivated to do it.

“A friendship group like the Oddfellows is a great place to start because it doesn’t focus on one activity or social event, it can open the door to a lot of different opportunities. Attending a coffee morning could lead you to a theatre trip, or an online quiz could introduce you to someone who has the same hobby as you – it’s full of possibilities!”

The Oddfellows is one of the UK’s largest and oldest friendly societies. A non-profit, it offers its members opportunities to stay social and supported in retirement, as well as chances to volunteer.

Each month, its branches hold around 700 events, in-person and online, from walks, talks and coffee mornings to lunch excursions and crafting.

Jane Nelson, CEO of the Oddfellows, added: “Joan and Jimmy are a fabulous reminder that retirement never has to be dull. We aren’t saying that everyone needs to become TikTok stars, but by staying open to opportunities – whether that’s trying a new activity or meeting different people – retirees can definitely reduce the chances of boredom from setting in.

“People deserve great retirements. They’ve earned it.”

To learn more about the Oddfellows, the support it offers retirees, and to receive a free information pack and local events diary, visit, call 0800 028 1810 or email

To find a branch near you go to

1 Online research was conducted on behalf of the Oddfellows by OnePoll between 26 April to 1 May 2024, with 1,800 adults aged 55+ in the UK surveyed.