Sir Billy Hastings

Sir Billy Hastings - photo by John Harrison

“Your health and your strength” are generally the number one priorities for Ulster’s older people in the opinion of local hotelier Sir Billy Hastings.

The sprightly 81-year-old says that ranking at number two is probably “the ability to pay to keep yourself in reasonable comfort.”

He continued: “One of the biggest problems for older people is loneliness, because (of the fact) their friends have died.

“One of the most difficult things in the world to identify is a lonely person - by nature they have become that way because they are secretive and private. “

But Sir Billy said that having travelled the globe, he still believed Northern Ireland is “probably is about the best place in the world to live.”

He added: “I’ve seen the living standards for a great number of people in New York, for a number of people in London - I’m not talking about the rich people who visit and stay in the Ritz Hotel, I’m talking about the ordinary Joe.

“It is in fact true that we are inherently a friendly lot of people, and when we walk past people we tip the cap, we say hello - it’s instinctive. That isn’t so everywhere.

“Also, we have a reasonable climate and most places aren’t very far away from the sea or the mountains or the rural areas.”

Article by Laura Murphy. Originally published as 'Pensioners facing perils and challenges in the 21st century', Belfast News Letter 04 May 2010.

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