Marion Shoard | Writer : Broadcaster : Speaker

News and Events

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 about wildlife and also older people's issues on the last Sunday morning of every month on BBC Radio Kent's Sunday Breakfast programme. On July 25th, for example, 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. Sunday Breakfast is available for 28 days after broadcast on the BBC Radio Kent website.

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' PDF File, 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. She referred to events which had prompted the development of her interest in environment issues during the 1970s, her four years working at the national office of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the publication of her first book, The Theft of the Countryside, and the national debate on the issues it raised.


On May 26, Marion was a panellist on BBC Radio Kent's Sunday Programme. Taking place at the close of 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) on Your Right to the City: Do We Need an Urban Right to Roam? She advocated greater access to private squares and other inaccessible open spaces in London, an extension of opening hours to recreation facilities such as the Barnes Wetlands Centre and Walthamstow Wetlands, and proactive planning for informal outdoor recreation for people working and living in London's edgelands. She pointed to the advantages which the introduction of a right of responsible access along the lines of that provided through Scotland's Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 would bring for public access within urban areas in England and Wales.

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'.

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.

Critic's Book of the Year

Mark Cocker singled out This Land is Our Land (Gaia Books, 1997) as one of his two chosen books in the New Statesman's Critics' Books of the Year in 2014. Mark Cocker writes: "Overtaken to some extent by developments in the last twenty years, Marion Shoard's This Land is Our Land is still a patiently constructed and authoritative classic on the injustices associated with land ownership and land access in Britain. A must for everyone who cares about nature, land, politics, law and life in this country." (New Statesman, 14-20 November, 2014)

Outdoor Personality of the Year

Marion was shortlisted in the category Outdoor Personality of the Year by the magazine The Great Outdoors for its The Great Outdoors Awards 2013. The winner, announced in Kendal on 13th November 2013, was the bushcraft expert and TV personality Ray Mears. Marion would like to thank everybody who voted for her and to congratulate Ray Mears on his well-deserved award.

Access rights in Scotland

Marion was interviewed by Cameron McNeish about the history of the struggle over access to Scotland's mountains and the importance of wild country for the BBC Scotland programme The Adventure Show: The Scottish National Trail, 2: Aberfeldy to Cape Wrath, which was broadcast on 28th December, 2012 at 7 pm. You can watch it on the BBC iplayer here

The Edgelands

Marion discussed the value of edgelands and their future planning with the authors of the book Edgelands (poets Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts) at a symposium at the Campaign to Protect Rural England in London on 7th November, 2012. You can read about the event here

You can listen to Marion's opening speech here

The history of the struggle over access to Britain's countryside

Marion reviewed Sinclair McKay's book about the history of the battle to secure rights of access for walkers to the countryside in The Guardian in June, 2012.

Talking about death - Marion Shoard appears on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour

How can middle-aged children cope psychologically with the death of their parents for the remainder of their own lives? How can families deal with the taboo surrounding death which has replaced the taboo on sex in recent years?

Marion Shoard discussed these matters on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour on June 28th.

Click here to listen to the broadcast and for more information.

The fight for our forests isn't won

Marion urges a right of access to all woodland in an article in The Guardian's Comment is Free and a speech on the South Downs on 12 May, 2011

Read the article here.

Why the outdoors is important

The April issue of Trail magazine features the response of a range of people whose work is inspired by an attraction for the outdoors just what it is that fires them up.

Here is Marion's response.

The poetry of the edgelands

In 2002 Marion Shoard wrote an award-winning essay entitled Edgelands, which she discussed on such programmes as Newsnight, Thinking Allowed and Start The Week.Now, poets Paul Farley and Michael Symmonds Roberts have written a book called Edgelands: Journeys into England´┐Żs True Wilderness, which explores the role of the unique environment of the edgelands in our cultural imagination.

You can read Marion's essay about the Edgelands and her review for The Observer of Farley and Symmonds Roberts' book and you can listen to an interview with Marion and the poets about the edgelands broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Open Country programme on 26 March, 2011.

The impact of the right to roam legislation

What has been the impact of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act's 'right to roam' legislation in England and Wales?

Marion Shoard discusses this question with the features editor of Trail magazine, Phoebe Smith, during a trek across previously inaccessible grouse moor in Lancashire's Forest of Bowland. Marion urges Trail readers to make use of newly accessible areas such as this in the November 2010 issue of Trail.

This article and its photographs are reproduced courtesy of Trail magazine, whose website can be found at

Lifetime Achievement Award

Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild - Golden Eagle Award

Receiving the Outdoor Writers & Photographers Guild - Golden Eagle Award from Guild president, Roly Smith. Photo by Jon Sparks

On November 7th, 2009 Marion Shoard was presented with the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild’s lifetime achievement award at the Guild’s annual awards ceremony.

The award takes the form of an original landscape painting by David Bellamy of a place selected by the winner featuring a golden eagle flying overhead; she asked David to paint a scene on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

Previous winners of this particular award – the Golden Eagle award for lifetime achievement in the outdoors field – have included Sir Chris Bonington CBE , Sir David Attenborough, Doug Scott CBE and the late Chris Brasher CBE.

Marion was the first solo woman to have received the award. The winner is selected as a result of voting by the OWPG’s members..

In her speech Marion drew attention to what she saw as a new ‘Theft of the Countryside’ Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild - Golden Eagle Award.