Marion Shoard | Writer : Broadcaster : Speaker

Latest news

Outsmarting Infirmity

In an article entitled Outsmarting Infirmity published on 9th March 2022 in The Oldie, Marion explored ingenious practical solutions to everyday problems and urged older and disabled people reluctant to use disability equipment to customise, glamourise and add a dash of humour to it. Marion discussed her article with Julia George on BBC Radio Kent on 9 th March. You can listen to the programme for up to one month from broadcast here; Marion's interview runs from 3.20.43 until 3.34.03.

BBC Radio Kent - Nature Notes: Feeding Wild Birds

I talked about the flowers, butterflies and birds to be seen in early spring in Kent and explained why listeners should feed birds if the weather turns nasty at that time of year in my regular interview on BBC Radio Kent, Nature Notes, on 27 th February 2022. The Sunday Breakfast programme in which Nature Notes is featured is available for one month from broadcast on BBC Radio Kent's website (look on the site for Phil Harrison, its presenter). Or contact me if you would like to listen to any of my Nature Notes.

BBC Radio Kent - Nature Notes: The Swanscombe Marshes

The landscape, wildlife, recreation and historical interest of edgeland sites has long fascinated me and in my Nature Notes on 26 th December 2021, I examined the wildlife, landscape and recreation value of the Swanscombe Marshes on the edge of Dartford, where media companies plan to construct a large theme park. There, a smorgasbord of previous land uses have created an assembly of soils and resulting flora and fauna which would never occur in nature so that Swanscombe Marshes have become one of the jewels in Britain's environment crown.

Trespass, beaches and Covid

Marion offers a 20-minute comment on the last Sunday morning of every month on BBC Radio Kent's Sunday Breakfast programme. On July 25th, she discussed access issues highlighted by a mass trespass on the Sussex Downs the day before; the likely impact of climate change on Kent's beaches; the need for prompt action on delivering booster vaccines to older and disabled people in view of the low-level of vaccine uptake and exemption from isolation if pinged of care workers; and the likely impact of Covid this autumn and winter on the mental health of care home residents and the ability of family and friends to visit them.

Special mention

Marion's book This Land is Our Land (1987 and 1997) was singled out for special praise in an article in The Guardian on 19 July 2021 entitled 'Written in the wild: the best radical nature writing'.

Lessons of Lockdown

In an article published in Christians on Ageing's magazine, plus, in April 2021, Marion explored ways in which the internet could enable churches to build back better, including widening the range of activities they offer at friendship clubs and enabling people who were prevented from attending church in person pre-Covid to enjoy greater contact with their church community after the lockdown restrictions have eased.

Anna Chaplaincy

A new specialism in Christian ministry involving the provision of emotional and spiritual care for older people has been pioneered in Kent. Marion outlined the development of the now UK-wide Anna Chaplaincy movement during her regular monthly slot on the Sunday Breakfast programme on BBC Radio Kent on February 28, 2021. This contribution is called Nature Notes: as well as discussing issues of the day relating to older people, she flags up the wild plants and animals to be seen in Kent during the coming month.

Vaccination of Care Staff

Marion advocated the compulsory vaccination of care staff in care homes in a letter published in The Daily Telegraph on 16 February, 2021. She urged also the compulsory vaccination of homecare staff during her Nature Notes slot on BBC Radio Kent on February 28, 2021.

Support the Forgotten

In an article published by Christians on Ageing's magazine, plus, in November 2020 Marion urged that churches give special support during the lockdowns to three groups: family carers isolated at home with those for whom they are caring; people excluded from the digital world; and care home residents whom nobody is seeking to visit.

Covid vaccination

Marion chaired a discussion on January 19, 2021 on behalf of the ecumenical group Christians on Ageing about the ways in which churches can ensure that various groups of people in their church communities do not fall through the cracks of the vaccination system; Conference Call participants also looked at other ways in which churches can support older people living at home, unpaid carers, and people living in care homes during the pandemic. You can read the report of the discussion here.

BBC Radio Kent − Nature Notes

Every month on BBC Radio Kent's Sunday Breakfast programme Phil Harrison talks to Marion about the wildlife to be heard and seen in Kent in the month in question and goes on to discuss with her older people's issues of the day, often related to Covid. These programmes are available for listening for 28 days after broadcast on the BBC Radio Kent website; the most recent was on 24 January 2021. Contact Marion if you would like to hear Nature Notes broadcast on 25 October 2020, 22 November 2020 or 27 December 2020.

Follow the Scottish Lead!

A letter urging the Department of Health and Social Care to adopt new guidance on visiting people in care homes along the lines of that promulgated in Scotland was published in The Guardian on 7 November 2020. You can read Marion's letter here.

Care Homes and the Pandemic

Marion chaired a discussion about care home residents' access to spiritual care and contact with lay and ordained people from faith groups on behalf of Christians on Ageing on 20 October 2020. You can read the report of the discussion here.

Loneliness During the Pandemic

Marion was interviewed on BBC1's regional news magazine programme South East Today on 12 October 2020 September about reasons why many older and disabled people feel lonely during the pandemic, such as lack of access to means of digital communication.

Faith Groups and Older People

Marion called for innovative ways in which faith groups could support self-isolating older people and those living in care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic in an article published in The Church of England Newspaper on 24 August 2020. You can read her article here.

How Faith Groups Could Act as Attorneys

Marion proposed a new way in which volunteers such as those in faith groups could support older people in an article published in the Autumn 2020 edition of the journal of the ecumenical group Christians on Ageing, plus. You can read her article here.

Older People at Home during the Pandemic

On July 28th Marion chaired a video discussion organised by Christians on Ageing about the ways in which faith groups can better support older people who are continuing to self isolate at home during the coronavirus pandemic. You can read a report of the discussion on the Christians on Ageing website here.

Improving the Mental Well-being of People in Care Homes

Marion discussed the ways in which life could be improved for older and disabled people living in care homes during the coronavirus pandemic in an article entitled article entitled 'Care homes: how we could make amends', which was published in the Summer 2020 issue of the journal of Christians on Ageing, plus.

Visiting Care Homes during the Pandemic

On 6 June, 2020 Marion explained the rules which care homes should follow (and often aren't) on ensuring their residents can have contact with their family and friends during the restrictions on visiting prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. In this document, she also urged that homes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland be able to permit the visiting of people with mental health conditions such as dementia for whom the absence of a visitor would cause distress, as homes are already permitted to do in Scotland. You can read her document here.


Marion fielded questions during a two-hour phone-in about later life issues for the programme Premier Tonight broadcast by Premier Christian Radio on 16 February.

Anna Chaplains

Marion gave a talk about the physical and psychological realities of ageing, with special reference to dementia during a training day for Anna Chaplains at St Benedict's Centre, West Malling, Kent on 15 February. Anna Chaplains are appointed by their local churches to provide specialised support to older people.

NHS Retirement Fellowship

Marion explored issues around later life at a talk to the local branch of the NHS Retirement Fellowship in Huntingdon on 17 January.

Welcome Return Trip to the Isle of Wight

Marion gave a talk entitled The Truth about Later Life at Ryde public library on the Isle of Wight on 29 November.

BBC Radio Kent

Marion offered the thought for the day as a panellist on BBC Radio Kent's Sunday Programme on 17 November. She also appeared as a panel member on the show on 13 October, 2019 and 9 February, 2020.

The Great Outdoors

Marion gave a talk urging greater access to the outdoors for people living in care homes during a research symposium at Luther King House, Manchester on 14 November.

CPRE Future Policy

Marion took part in a one-day seminar at the Campaign to Protect Rural England's national office in London on October 16th. She offered some thoughts about the future direction CPRE policy might take on land ownership and the enjoyment of the countryside as part of CPRE's review of future policy directions. Marion worked at CPRE national office as a planning specialist in the mid-1970s.

Return visit

Marion returned to give a second talk about later life matters to the Medway Pensioners Forum on 18 September.

Library talks

Marion gave an interactive talk entitled The Truth about Later Life at public libraries in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames on 6th and 13th September.

Education matters

Marion gave the after-dinner speech at the annual meeting of the alumni organisation of Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School in Ramsgate, Kent on June 23, reflecting on the areas of knowledge and expertise the school had imparted which proved helpful to her in her post-school career and other subjects it could usefully have added to the curriculum.

Concern for the Environment

On June 3, Marion gave a talk at a conference at Kings College, London about the birth of the modern environment movement in Britain.

Dementia talk

On May 23, Marion gave a two-hour interactive talk at Wimbledon library as part of the library's programme of events for Dementia Action Week, Marion discussed issues involving dementia at several points during the programme, including in her 'thought for the day'.

An Urban Right to Roam?

On May 23, Marion took part in a seminar organised by the London branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) entitled Your Right to the City: Do We Need an Urban Right to Roam?


On May 23, Marion gave a talk at Wimbledon library as part of the library's programme of events for Dementia Action Week.

How to Handle Later Life

On May 20, Marion gave a talk at Deal library in Kent drawing out some of the themes in her book How to Handle Later Life.

The Truth about Later Life

On May 2, Marion gave a talk at Southsea library in Hampshire entitled The Truth about Later Life.

Sunday Programme

On April 14, Marion took part in BBC Radio Kent's Sunday Programme and offered a 'thought for the day'.

The Truth about Later Life

March 21, Marion gave a talk at Gravesend library in Kent entitled The Truth about Later Life

Getting on

On 21 January, 2019 Marion gave a talk at the Lord Louis Library, Newport, Isle of Wight entitled 'Make the Third Age the Best Age'.

Shared rights over land

On 12 December, 2018, Marion took part in a conference in Manchester organised by Shared Assets which explored the community ownership of land.

The Sunday Programme

Marion was a panellist on BBC Radio Kent's The Sunday Programme on 7 October 2018 and offered a 'thought for the day'.

Churches and Older People

In October, 2018 Reform Magazine (the magazine of the United Reformed Church) published an article by Marion offering guidance to church leaders about ways in which they can best support older people. You can read this article here.

The Invention of Later Life

On 28 August Marion gave a talk about the invention of the concept of later life and myths surrounding the practical realities confronting older people to Enfield over 50s Forum in Enfield, London.

Panel discussion about Ageism

On 28 June 2018 Marion took part in a panel discussion with Lara Crisp (the editor of Gransnet), Phoebe Grudzinskas (the project director of Cocktails in Care Homes) and the writer and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter at the Royal Society for Public Health in London about the Royal Society's report 'That Age Old Question'.

Training for Pharmacists

An article entitled 'Healthy Ageing' by Sara Jankovic which quotes Marion extensively was published in the July 2018 issue of the magazine for pharmacists Training Matters. You can read the article here. You can find more information about Training Matters at

Myths about Ageing

On 27 June 2018 Marion gave a talk at a meeting of the Medway Pensioners Forum in Rochester in which she discussed myths about ageing and the development of the idea of later life.

Ageism debate

On 8 June, 2018 Marion debated the nature of ageism in society with Chloe Pelly on BBC 1's Victoria Derbyshire programme and also with Rachael Bland and Chris Mason on BBC Radio Five 5's 5 live Drive in the wake of the publication of an important report by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Royal Society for Public Health entitled 'That Age Old Question'.

How Churches can Help Older People

On 8 June, 2018 the Church of England Newspaper published a feature article by Marion in which she put forward ten aspects of the lives of older people of which clergy should be aware, from the limitations of retirement housing to healthcare rights set down in the NHS Constitution.

The Simple Things

An interview with Marion about her views and recent activities was published in the April issue of The Simple Things. You can read it here.

The Land of the Poets Talk

Marion gave a talk entitled 'The Land of the Poets' at a conference organised by the Friends of the Dymock Poets on April 14, 2018.

Talks to Older People's Groups

Marion often gives talks to older people's organisations, in particular older people's forums and University of the Third Age groups. On 10 March 2018, for example, she addressed about 200 members of York U3A, putting forward 'My Top Ten Tips for Later Life'.

Access to Woodland

In January, 2018 The Land magazine published an article by Marion urging the creation of a right of access on foot to Britain's woods as part of the celebrations of the Charter of the Forest. You can read it here.

Housing Choices in Later Life

Marion gave a talk about housing choices in later life at Love Later Life information and advice day organised by The Abbeyfield Kent Society at Northfleet, Kent on 25 October, 2017.

The British Countryside after Brexit

Marion gave a talk to civil servants at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 24 October, 2017 in which she put forward a package of proposals for countryside policy post-Brexit.

Understanding the Edgelands

Marion gave a talk about the special character of edgeland landscapes and the threats faced by the edgelands around London at a Museum of London soirée hosted by the architectural historian Tom Keeley and writer Ken Worple on 10 October, 2017. She wrote an award-winning essay entitled Edgelands in 2002.

Wild camping

Marion discussed the ban on wild camping in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park with travel writer Phoebe Smith on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours on 29 September 2017.

Launch of How to Handle Later Life

On 27 September, 2017 Marion gave a talk at the launch of her book How to Handle Later Life at Waterstones Tunbridge Wells entitled 'My top ten tips about later life... and a radical new idea'. There is a photo of the event on the news and events page.

The Charter of the Forest

Marion gave a talk about the history of the struggle over land rights in Britain and the need for greater rights of access for walkers, especially a legal right to walk in all woods, at an 800th anniversary celebration of the Charter of the Forest near Runnymede on September 17th, 2017.

New book on older people's issues

In September 2017, Marion's new book, How to Handle Later Life, was published by Amaranth Books. Its 1,160 pages provide frank, unsparing and comprehensive guidance to every aspect of ageing, from retirement housing to hospitals, equity release to dementia care.

BBC Radio Nottingham interview

Marion gave a talk about her new book, How to Handle Later Life, at the Lowdham Book Festival on June 2nd. Alan Clifford interviewed her about her talk the day before on BBC Radio Nottingham.

Make the Third Age the Best Age

Marion gave a talk to Bromley U3A on 28th March highlighting the positive - and negative - aspects of being an older person in today's Britain.

Tackling loneliness in later life

Marion chaired a conference in Edinburgh exploring isolation for older people on 22nd March, organised by Holyrood Communications.

What does the budget mean for older people?

Marion was on BBC Breakfast on 8th and 9th March 2017 analysing spending priorities for older people in the budget. The programme was filmed at the Bournville Gardens retirement village in Birmingham.

The future of the countryside post-Brexit

Marion was on BBC Breakfast on 9 September 2016 discussing the implications of the referendum result on agricultural subsidies, access, recreation and rewilding. The broadcast was from the top of Stanage Edge in the Peak District.

Writer - Environmentalist - Older People's Advocate

How can we make better use of the outdoors to improve our physical and mental health both during the coronavirus pandemic and in the long-term? What should be the aims of a fundamental reform of the social care system and how should changes be funded? What can you do to enjoy a happy and healthy later life? How can we prevent devastating change to the landscape and wildlife of our countryside post-Brexit? These are the kinds of questions which exercise me and to which you may find answers here.

In both the fields of conflicts over the use of Britain's land and issues of special interest to older people, I write books and articles, take part in TV and radio interviews and phone-ins, and give talks - at conferences, meetings of voluntary organisations, book festivals and to students.

Marion Shoard on Wikipedia             Marion Shoard on Twitter

How to Handle Later LifeHow to Handle Later Life

Marion’s latest book in the older people’s field, How to Handle Later Life, was published by Amaranth Books in September, 2017. Running to 1160 pages, it is a comprehensive guide to every aspect of ageing, from retirement housing to hospitals, equity release to dementia care.

How to Handle Later Life is available from bookshops, Amaranth Books and from the distributors, Central Books.

"There should be a copy in every library, council office, doctor's practice, MP's surgery, Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK office, if not in every household." Third Age Matters (national magazine of the U3A movement)

"Extremely well written, informative, well thought-through, and the writing style makes it easily accessible to a wide range of readers. ... Everyone should read this book." Nursing Times

You can read reviews of this book, the table of contents, introduction, summary and four sample sections here.

Countryside conservation, countryside access and land ownership

My interest in countryside conservation was first fired while I was studying zoology at Oxford University. At first, wildlife conservation and the conservation of the world's natural resources were my main concerns. After working for four years for the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) in the mid-1970s, I left to investigate the impact of modern farming on the wild plants and animals of the English countryside. However, this investigation soon also embraced the impact of modern farming on the landscape and historical value of the countryside. I talked to people in towns and villages whose lives had been affected by unrestrained landscape change wrought by modern farming, as well as to farmers themselves, landowners and specialists in wildlife, archaeology and public policy on agriculture and on town and country planning. These investigations yielded my first book, The Theft of the Countryside. This examined the damage already caused and urged radical measures to prevent further destruction.

Land ownership in the UK - who owns the land and the powers which the law allows them absorbed my thoughts over the next few years and in 1987 my book This Land is Our Land. This proposed a new social contract between landowners (public and private) and the wider population, including the introduction of a 'right to roam'. This Land is Our Land was published in tandem with a Channel 4 programme, Power in the Land, which I presented. During the 1990s, I held lecturing posts in rural planning at University College, London and Reading University.

Gaia Books reissued This Land is Our Land as a Gaia Classic in 1997. In my third book, A Right to Roam (1999), I turned again to the idea of greater freedom to roam over the countryside. I examined the struggle over rights of access to Britain’s countryside over the past 1,000 years, looked at the ways in which alternative access systems overseas operate and put forward a detailed plan of how a general right of access on foot to the countryside of the UK could take shape on the ground.

The Sidney Perry Foundation, The Leverhulme Trust and the Nuffield Foundation have funded my research into landscape change and countryside access over the years. I campaigned for improvements to what became the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (for England and Wales) and the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, just as I had twenty years before to what became the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

In recent years I have become interested in what may be the most distinctive yet maligned landscape of our time: the edgelands – that is, the hotchpotch collection of superstores, sewage works, golf courses and surprisingly wildlife-rich roughlands which sit between town and country in the urban fringe.

A Right to Roam and an essay entitled 'Edgelands' Edgelands have both won awards from the Outdoors Writers and Photographers Guild.

In 2006 I was voted one of the top 100 most influential environmental activists by The Guardian. In 2009 the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild presented me with its Golden Eagle Award for a lifetime's achievement in the world of the outdoors.

I remain deeply interested in environment matters. More information on my environment work can be found here: Environment | Land Ownership | CPRE | Right to Roam | Awards