Why retire when you can refire! MAXINE GORDON meets the North Yorkshire women not yet ready to quit the nine-to-five

NICOLA JOY-SMITH thinks she may have invented the word "refirement".

The 60 year old said the word summed up her feelings as she approached the end of a nursing career, where most staff retired at 55.

Refirement is nothing to do with losing your job – rather the opposite. Refirement is all about reigniting your passion for the world of work.

"I don't like the idea of retirement," explains Nicola. "I couldn't even bring myself to say retire. I decided I was not going to do it, but make a change in my life. I would have a break, a bit like when you shut your computer down have to a reboot – a refire!"

And she's never been busier since her "reboot".

After giving up her permanent nursing job last autumn, Nicola set up in March as a health and beauty therapist, running her clinic from her home at Sheriff Hutton (nicolashealthsanctuary.com).

She still works as a bank nurse and has seven grandchildren to spend time with too as well as a 91-year-old mother.

Besides offering a range of massages, manicures and pedicures at her clinic, she is also qualified in minor surgical procedures, so can remove skin tags, warts and treat red veins and minor skin lesions.

And so far, the business is going well. "I have some very nice customers and am able to use all my skills. People are coming back and I am getting lots of good feedback."

Over at Stamford Bridge, Anita Tasker is staging her own "refirement" – for the third time.

The grandmother-of-one will turn 67 this summer – but this lady is not for retiring.

Instead, she has returned to her big love – baking – and has opened Square Bakehouse in the village centre, next to the post office.

Anita has been running bakeries for many years – including Bridge Rolls at Stamford Bridge more than a decade ago. She also set up Pattacakes, a bakery and cafe selling homemade bread and patisserie at Welburn, near Castle Howard. She sold that business only to open a Pattacakes in Dunnington a few years later.

For the past two years she has tried to retire – but despite having a hobby horse-riding and becoming a grandmother, she longed to return to business.

She said: "I missed the interaction, I missed the baking and I missed the focus."

Despite a successful career in catering, Anita found it hard to get another job in the industry. "Nobody wants to employ you when they see your age."

So she decided to open up a bakery again – hiring Amanda Whittle and Helen Houseman, who she had employed and trained in cake and bread-making in her Pattacakes days.

The skilful trio are up early to make breads for the bakery and spend the day making an array of cakes, from tray bakes such as caramel slices and rocky road, to tarts and cheesecakes, and delicious-looking gateaux that would not look out of place in the finest Paris patisserie (but at North Yorkshire prices).

Annie Stirk will turn 70 next year and retired from her successful PR business Absolutely Food a couple of years ago.

But this grandmother of three is not for putting her feet up.

Besides launching Time of Your Life, a website and blog to connect and inspire women in retirement, she has embarked on a new venture as a model.

She's just completed a shoot for North Yorkshire fashion retailer Copper & White and has done a catwalk show for Hearts Boutique in Easingwold.

"Modelling came out of the blue," says Annie, who lives in the Howardian Hills village of Brandsby with her husband Ken.

She spotted a Facebook ad looking for new models – including mature ones – and sent off a recent picture of her dressed up to the nines for a Great Gatsby immersive theatre experience.

"I was wearing black and had all the gubbins on for a Gatsby party," she said.

The photo got her noticed and she was invited to a photo shoot. This led to her being showcased on various modelling platforms and she is now on the books of an agency in London.

She doesn't know where it might lead, but she is enjoying this new experience. "It's quite nice going with the flow, but it would be nice to make some money out of it."

Annie says her previous career in food public relations and TV has helped her feel comfortable in front of a camera, or on a stage or catwalk.

Before her retirement, she spent 35 years working in TV and radio as a food presenter and TV cook.

She worked in front of camera and also behind the scenes as a food stylist on location all over the country.

Her credits include ITV's This Morning and Channel 5's Open House with Gloria Hunniford, where Annie presented live food items for five years, alongside big name celebrities.

She was also a presenter on Shopping Channel Ideal World and various series for Yorkshire Television.

Annie, who is 5ft 4 and a size 12-14, said it was important to use older models because people aged 50, 60 and older form a big market. "I hope brands and services like my look enough to let me represent them.

"I've worked with the camera most of my career and it feels nice to be working in that kind of world again!

"I'd love to be refired! It's hard to switch off the creative tap.

"This might not go anywhere, but I'm having a go, I'm having fun and enjoying it. If I get a couple of opportunities, that will be brilliant."