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Cutting Edge
BSG Founding Fellows: 40 years of the British Society of Gerontology

The Society

The British Society of Gerontology to me is a model of academics and others working together to try to improve the lives of older people. As someone who was in, if not in at the start, then nearly so, I have found it a friendly and hard working organisation. From my time on the Executive to the present I know how much hard work goes into every aspect of the Society.

When I first joined I was a civil servant and found a committed and exceptionally welcoming community. The conferences were, and still are, the highlight of the conference season. I have only missed one which was this year when my husband died. The mutual support that people give to one another in good and bad times are remarkable. One of the most notable features has been the quality of the chief officers and we have been incredibly lucky in those who have chaired the organisation and occupied other very demanding roles such as Treasurer and Secretary. Other distinguishing features have been the lack of a hierarchy so that students and senior academics mingle in meetings and at meals. It has been a nurturing ground for many future academics and policy makers. Some things have changed and, much as I admire the present editors of Generations Review, I do miss having the hard copy to read during journeys. But the quality had remained high and is always a good read.

Ageing Research

As for the study of ageing over the last 40 years some things remain the same but others change. What remains the same is the absolute belief in the value of older people and it has been good during the last few years to see older people taking more of a part in the conferences and other events including in the research process.

What is astonishing is the ignorance of many of the general public, especially journalists, who express surprise at the concept of an ageing society and especially the growth in the number of very old people. The reality of long term care is another feature which the general public is only just beginning to realise the consequences for themselves and their parents and grandparents. So whereas the study of long term care seemed very much a topic that warranted perhaps a page or two in books it is now to the forefront of concern.

Two of the new, and welcome, features of research are the growth of multidisciplinary work and the greater emphasis on studying countries other than the UK. Starting with comparisons with Europe and the United States the real growth areas are now on Global Ageing.
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