A surprise Dutch travel award

Alan Wooding, the editor of www.always-on-the-go.co.uk, was named 2013 Journalist of the Year at the annual Dutch Press Awards held at The Institute of Directors in London's Pall Mall. He was presented with a specially-commissioned traditional hand-painted Royal Delft tobacco jar by Mr Axel Rüger, director of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. The award came as a total shock but was a huge honour merely 12 months after officially retiring from the Biggleswade Chronicle's sports desk.

Competing in Autograss racing

On a walking holiday in Spain

All about the editor

Why we created this website

Having left school at 15 in 1962 with no formal qualifications, I immediately opted for a six year apprenticeship as a compositor and latterly a Linotype operator in the printing industry at specialist colour printers, The Sidney Press Limited in Bedford.

       Marrying my fiancee Jo in May 1970 and moving to our first home in Bedford, as computers began replacing traditional 'hot metal' printing, I reluctantly changed jobs to work at Bedford County Press on newspaper

production in 1971.

      However it was a chance conversation two years later with a local newspaper editor which presented me with what turned out to be a life-changing opportunity.

      Encouraging me to write about my passion for motorsport for the Milton Keynes Express, I am indebted to Mr Gerald Stratton who presented me with the opportunity to report on race meetings at Silverstone (my local circuit) and in turn, it led to me to become a regular correspondent to two highly-respected national racing publications, Motoring News and Autosport.

      With two daughters born in 1972 and 1975 respectively, it was in 1976 that I helped create a new motor racing team thanks to my contact with a newly-established Bedford-based building company. Teaming up with local racing car manufacturer Royale Racing and talented driver Trevor van Rooyen – a scholarship winner to the UK after he stormed to the national championship title in his native South Africa – that first season saw Trevor win 33 races while the SDC Racing Team claim two British titles.   

     Unfortunately we only missed out on a unique Formula Ford 1600 championship treble by a single point after Nigel Mansell edged us into second place in the final race of the season. But making up for it, Trevor won the prestigious Silverstone 'Driver of the Year' award.

       Continuing to employ several different drivers, the team went on to earn a host of honours and titles over the next two decades and while I desperately wanted to race myself, I really couldn't afford it. 

       However I was given the chance to try autograss racing by the St Neots Autograss Club after being invited to present their annual awards at an end of season dinner. As a cheaper alternative to circuit racing, I was immediately hooked and, thanks to several generous sponsors, I was able to compete competitively for several seasons in both club and national championships with limited success having taken part in around 500 races.

       I continued to report on motorsporting events while also undertaking numerous road test for several local and national newspapers and I finally left the printing industry in 1991 to become the sports editor on the Biggleswade Chronicle.

        That also led me to take up my two other passions... travel and the theatre. I was lucky enough to pick up numerous sporting journalist awards and as time passed, I became senior sports editor for the Premier Newspaper Group – part of Johnston Press,  then JPiMedia and now National World PLC.

       As something of a hobby, I began writing regular travel reviews and features around the time of the Millennium while I finally retired from full time work aged 65 in November 2012. A year later I was honoured to be named Journalist of the Year at the annual Dutch Tourism Press Awards at the Institute of Directors in London's Pall Mall.

        I have continue to enjoy retirement to the full and have kept my hand in by supplying and editing travel articles and features – plus theatre reviews – for some 20 different JPiMedia newspaper titles, covering Beds, Herts, Bucks, Northants, Warwickshire and parts of Cambridgeshire.

         Being introduced to the Bedford branch of the U3A (University of the Third Age) the day after my retrirement was a huge part of eliminating any chance of boredom. I immediately joined the swimming, photography, guitar and walking groups – I've been leader of the latter for eight years now – while I am also an active member of the Bedford U3A committee.

       Fortunately I still get the opportunity to write travel features and review theatre productions while it was at a friend's suggestion in early 2018 that led to my creating the

www.always-on-the-go.co.uk website.

       You can contact us by emailing alan@always-on-the-go.co.uk

While retirement from full time employment can often be a daunting prospect, by simply treating it as a fresh start, it can open doors and give you a whole new lifestyle change.

        With the chance to take up a new hobby – which you probably didn't have time for when you were working! – by joining a retirement club or organisation, it can certainly can bring fresh opportunities and new friendship and with it the chance to travel to all those places that you never thought possible or had even considered.

       Having worked for more than 50 years in the printing and newspaper industry, within days of leaving work, I joined my local U3A (University of the Third Age) which not only gave me a fresh reason to get out and about, but as an added bonus, it gained me so many new friends that today my quality of life is better – and busier – than ever.

     Over the years I've worked with so many people who, after

retirement, literally stagnated at home. I was determined to continue enjoying life and it was at a friend's suggestion that I create a website for those actively retired silver surfers who want to travel and have new adventures while enjoying their leisure time to the full.

     I just hope that you enjoy reading the many articles on the pages of my website as much as I have had creating them.

Alan Wooding

Spending time with the family 

Happy days racing my two Spectra Racing Autograss Minis

Holidaying with friends in South Africa