I met Alan for the first time early in 2012. He had been on a desert walk in North Africa the previous Autumn, and I remember him saying that in the emptiness of the dunes a BIG QUESTION had come to him – Where are the older men? And then related questions; Where are the older men meeting; Where do older men go to get help; Where are older men being seen, and bringing about positive change in the world. To all these questions (and more) there appeared to be a resounding silence.

So the idea for the book was born in Alan’s mind because he felt – and still feels passionately – that the answers to all these questions are there, and need to be written about and told. So the chapters of his book were organised, topics thought through, and the words began to tumble out on to Alan’s PC (…and I was asked to write the Health Chapter, which I was happy to accept and got me into the project).

DCIM100MEDIABecause as well as the idea for the book, there was now a Men Beyond 50 project, the other related big question now going on in Alan’s mind in 2012 being – How do we spread the word to older men? The answer to that was a website that could become a resource gateway for older men, events that focussed on providing for the older men’s sector, and a posse of like-minded guys to help support, encourage and energise getting the message out there. Several Men Beyond 50 workshops at Hazel Hill Wood and elsewhere later, and a slow learning curve of how to create an attractive user-friendly website, do social media, enewsletters online and more, and things are beginning to bear fruit and the word about Men Beyond 50 is starting to spread.

And now the best fruit to date: the launch of Alan’s excellent book Out of the Woods: A Guide to Life for Men Beyond 50 – the culmination of one man’s vision and one man’s journey. May it sell well and bring the author the rewards he deserves for the 3 years of hard effort!

May the book also be the ground-breaker, bringing focus and attention on to the older men sector, as well as being a very practical and inspiring help to the many older men who read it!

And thirdly may the book also act as the herald and catalyst for many more older men to join in our ongoing play at Men Beyond 50, for us all to tell our different stories, meet in groups and gatherings, and come together to grow the conversation in collaborative community.

Finally, what next for Alan after his three year journey from North Africa desert to printed page and published book? We are all waiting to hear the next BIG QUESTION that I have every confidence is at this very moment being generated in the spaciousness of his delicious mind and caring heart!