Retirement marks start of a new career for OBE Cath

Cath Cole's first novel was published last month
Cath Cole's first novel was published last month
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Grandmother Cath Cole has already enjoyed a successful career in health and education, even being honoured by the Queen.

She has now retired, but rather than putting up her feet, she has launched a new career as a writer.

Cath graduated from Edge Hill University in 2013, aged 65, with a Masters degree in creative writing and has just had her first novel published.

“I was a nurse and tutor and then I went into teaching and management and now I’m a writer. “It’s taken me a long time to do that. With the Masters degree and publication of the book, I now feel like a writer.”

Cath Cole

Cath, of The Farthings, Astley Village, said: “In a way I have had three careers.

“I was a nurse and tutor and then I went into teaching and management and now I’m a writer.

“It’s taken me a long time to do that. With the Masters degree and publication of the book, I now feel like a writer.”

Cath, now 67, grew up in Bolton and started her career by training as a state registered nurse.

She became a health visitor, before moving into education.

She worked at Runshaw College from 1985 to 1989 and was involved in setting up the health and social care courses there.

Cath had a series of promotions and became principal of a college in Coventry for people with disabilities.

And in 2004, she was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours for services to the education of young people with disabilities.

Cath spent the last five years of her teaching career working on a freelance basis, before she retired.

And she then had the time to explore her writing skills.

Cath, who is married to Ron and has a son James, 40, said: “Somebody once asked me what I would do with my time when I retired.

“I heard myself saying I would do creative writing and I wondered where that came from!

“But the idea grew and I thought it wasn’t a bad idea.

“I saw a course advertised at Lancashire College and went for a three-week taster and liked it so much that I paid for the other five weeks.

“I wanted to see if I was any good.”

Cath sent two pieces of work to a magazine in Yorkshire and they were accepted.

That inspired her to write a novel.

“I had no knowledge and no idea what I was doing but I kept at it,” she said.

Cath joined a writers’ group in Skelmersdale and, with their encouragement, she signed up for the Masters course.

Cath enjoyed being able to focus on the course, as she had other commitments when training earlier in her career.

She said: “It was like being 18. I could just enjoy it and I really did and I met some really nice people.”

Cath had already written a draft of her novel before starting the course and experimented with it as she learned new things.

After graduating, she started work on it again.

“At first I said I was going to start another novel and use this as an apprenticeship piece,” she said.

“But one day I thought I would go back to it. I stripped back all the experimental stuff and re-wrote it.

“I began to think of sending it to publishers. I sent it to a few.

“Some didn’t reply, others sent me a rejection slip and others told me to keep trying.”

But in September last year, Cath received an email while on holiday in Paris from publisher Corazon Books, who wanted to accept it.

Cath said: “I was beside myself.

“We were with some friends in Paris and had been out for a meal.

“I woke up during the night and wondered if I had drunk too much wine.

“I was over the moon.

“It’s very difficult as a debut writer, certainly at my age, to break into what is quite a crowded market. It’s beyond belief in some respects.”

Home From Home tells the story of five women training to be state registered nurses from 1966 to 1969.

She says the book includes social and cultural references and the changes in society from the post-war 1950s to the swinging 1960s.

Cath did her training during this time, but she says the book is not about her and is “very very loosely” based on her experiences.

“I do stress it’s fiction. It isn’t my autobiography and it isn’t a memoir,” she said.

The book was published on Friday, April 24 and Cath took part in the What’s Your Story, Chorley? word festival the following day.

And while celebrating the publication of her book, Cath continues to let her imagination run wild.

She has already written 30,000 words of her second novel.