“Inspired by my granny” - the story behind the online community that’s bringing joy to retirees

On average, we now spend more than 20% of our lives in retirement. For those of us expected to live into our 80s (and that’s most of us), we are on track to enjoy at least 16 of those years either retired or semi-retired.

Gone are the days when retirement meant slowing down and settling in with the pipe and slippers. Modern retirement is - ideally - an opportunity to enjoy life on your own terms. Spend more time with family, finally see the world, write that novel you’ve had floating around in your head for the last 20 years, explore wild swimming - it’s your retirement! In the immortal words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”

As the Founder and CEO of The Joy Club, I’m dedicated to helping people to make the most of this time of their lives.

Audley Villages and The Joy Club

The Joy Club is an online community that provides inspiration for a joyful retirement. Members can expand their horizons and learn new skills at over 100 live, interactive classes, talks and workshops every month, enjoy exclusive daily articles from journalists, experts and members alike, and learn at their leisure with an ever-growing library of on-demand talks and classes.

But The Joy Club is so much more than just a website...

Inspired by my granny

I was initially inspired to create The Joy Club by my Granny Jean. For her, retirement was the most joyful time of her life. Her retirement adventures included backpacking around New Zealand solo, volunteering in Bulgaria and becoming an amazing painter!

Photo below: Hannah Thomson and Granny Jean

A  senior lady leaning on a young woman

When I lost her to dementia, I wanted to pay tribute to her by bringing her sense of joy, adventure and passion for meeting new people to as many others as possible.

That’s why in 2019 I left my job at a women’s health technology company to begin working on what was to become The Joy Club. I knew from the very beginning that it was crucial to involve retired people in the creation of the company. Within that first year, over 100 retirees helped me make critical decisions on everything from the website design and the types of activities we would offer, to our brand colours and even the name itself.

The Joy Club was born

After more than a year of research and preparation, we launched The Joy Club on 8th December 2020. My diary entry for that day reads:

‘Very joyful day, we launched and the first doses of the vaccine were administered!’

Indeed, The Joy Club journey and the pandemic have been interwoven. Covid shaped the idea by dictating that we had to find a way to deliver joy online only, and it also meant that I had to hire a team of people that I had never met in real life (though you wouldn’t guess that, from the genuine care that we feel for each other and for what we’re trying to create!). Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention and I think that adage neatly fits our story.

“I can’t believe the vast array of activities on offer – there is something for everyone.” - Mrs Robson, member of The Joy Club


The Joy Club two years on...

Two years after we first launched, The Joy Club has welcomed thousands of members from right across the UK - from Penzance to the Shetland Islands!

In the last year alone, we’ve hosted hundreds of live online events - covering everything from Tai Chi, Pilates and face yoga to live concerts, wine tasting and even a live tour of La Mancha; we’ve published hundreds of articles - over 70% of which are written by the members themselves - and we’ve introduced an extremely popular ‘on demand’ section, where members can access a library of talks and classes to enjoy at their leisure.

“The Joy Club has made a huge difference to my life. Give it a try - you just might love it!”

Ann Hacker, owner at Audley Cooper’s Hill and member of The Joy Club

Join us for 2023

Homeowners at Audley Villages can enjoy a year of free Premium membership to The Joy Club, courtesy of Audley Villages.