Marion Shoard | Writer : Broadcaster : Speaker

Latest news

Housing Choices in Later Life

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

The British Countryside after Brexit

Marion gave a talk to civil servants at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 24th October 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 October 10th. 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 29th September 2017.

Launch of How to Handle Later Life

On September 27th, 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

Why are cuts being inflicted on the poorest in society while the enormous wealth generated through the ownership of land goes untaxed? How can we secure a new deal for the countryside post-Brexit? How can society support people who develop dementia? How can we increase the freedom to explore our countryside and improve facilities for access for people with disabilities? What can you do to enjoy a happy and healthy later life? These are the kinds of questions to which you may find answers here.

Two areas concern me: conflicts over the use of Britain's land, and older people's issues. In each of these fields I have spent years finding out the facts and campaigning for change.

In both areas 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

On September 1st, Marion's new book, How to Handle Later Life, was published by Amaranth Books. 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.

"This book deals in a forthright but very gentle way with the unmentionable. It is readable, thorough and kind." Ann Widdecombe

Land ownership and a right to roam

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.

In September 2016, Marion appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss the future of the countryside, including agricultural subsidies and recreation opportunities, from the summit of Stanage Edge in the Peak District.

I remain deeply interested in environment matters and in autumn 2016, for instance, was involved in discussions including at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about the shape agricultural subsidies could most usefully take post-Brexit and debates about the shape land ownership in Britain might take and how opportunities for outdoor recreation in the countryside improved in a two-day national Land for What? weekend of debate. More information on my environment work can be found here: Environment | Land Ownership | CPRE | Right to Roam | Awards