Marion Shoard | Writer : Broadcaster : Speaker

Latest news

Target LINK with Concerns!

On 19 December 2023, BBC Radio Kent's Wake-Up Call examined the implications of the closure of bank branches in Kent, including the loss of the free facility to obtain cash at ATMs. During this feature, Marion explained the importance of retaining bank branches on the High Street, particularly for older and disabled people, and also urged listeners to hold the feet to the fire of LINK, the organization of bank and building societies which aims to ensure that the geographical coverage of free ATMs does not diminish. Individuals, local councils and MPs could contact LINK with their concerns, and also come up with proposals, for instance of deprived neighbourhoods where ATMs should be installed: LINK says it will pay special attention to ensuring that deprived neighbourhoods have a free ATM.

Keep The Cash Option in Taxis!

In an interview with Anna Cookson on BBC Radio Kent's Wake-Up Call on 6 December, 2023, Marion expressed concern that taxi firms in Tunbridge Wells would withdraw the cash option for passengers if the town council insists that they install machines to take digital payments, arguing that they are unlikely to welcome the trouble of offering both. But should taxis switch to digital only, drivers might well refuse to take passengers into the many rural areas of west Kent with a poor signal. Another drawback is that digital systems are vulnerable to breakdown, deliberate or accidental − unlike cash, which is very robust.

Give English People a Right of Access to Woodland

In a letter published in The Guardian on 10 November 2023, Marion urged the introduction of a legal right of public access to all woodland in England, in the wake of Keir Starmer's rejection of the enactment of a legal presumption of responsible access everywhere, with exceptions, along the lines of the right enacted in Scotland in 2003.

Nature "in freefall"

Marion offered her final Nature Notes on BBC Radio Kent on Sunday, 5 November, 2023 in the final edition of BBC Radio Kent's Sunday Breakfast (axed as part of the BBC's reorganisation of local radio). She talked about intriguing features of late autumn such as starling murmurations and the abundance of fungi, but voiced concern about the future of England's wild creatures from the two-spotted ladybird to the common frog in the face of modern farming methods and the climate emergency, referring to Caroline Lucas' dismay that "Nature is in freefall" in a speech on 2 November. Marion had offered her Nature Notes monthly on Sunday Breakfast since October, 2021.

Ticket Office Closures − Welcome News

Marion, who had discussed the deleterious impact of the widespread closure of train ticket offices on BBC Radio Kent in the past welcomed the government's U-turn on the matter on BBC Radio Kent's morning discussion programme hosted by Mike Ziolek on 31 October, 2023.

The Future of BBC Local Radio

The BBC plans partly to dismantle its network of BBC local radio and Marion has expressed her concerns involving local identity, democracy and national security to MPs, BBC Governors and others. Julia George interviewed Marion about these concerns on the Julia George programme on BBC Radio Kent on 7 December 2022.

The Move to a Cashless Society

Marion argued that it is vital to keep cash as an option on BBC Radio Kent on 23 August, 2022. She argued that this is important for the many people unable or unwilling to use digital transactions, those anxious about careful budgeting for themselves and their children; people and charities dependent on cash donations in the street; and, not least, society as a whole, in the event of internet disruption, whether accidental or deliberate.

Praise from Caroline Lucas, MP

In a House of Commons debate on Access to Nature on 18 May 2023, the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said, "Marion has done more than perhaps any other individual to push land on to the agenda in Britain, and to advance cogently and fearlessly the case for a right to roam."

Older People in the Workplace

In a debate on BBC Radio Kent on 16 March, 2023, in the wake of the government's launch of tax breaks for high-earners to attract older people back into the workforce, Marion pointed to a range of other measures which could return older workers to the workplace. These included greater efforts by employers to address the particular needs of older workers as well as better social care to enable older people including those acting as family carers to work.

March hares, great-crested grebes, spring migrants and toad patrols

In her regular, monthly Nature Notes slot on BBC Radio Kent broadcast on 12 March 2023, Marion explained that climate change can cause Nature's succession of events to go out of sync, so that birds migrating to Britain expecting to feed their young on particular insects have real problems should a cold spell (like that of early March 2023) delay the appearance of those insects on which they feed their young. Marion went on to talk about some of the spectacular courtship displays listeners might be lucky enough to see, such as the 'boxing' of March hares and the weed display of great crested grebes. She urged listeners to help bring to safety toads, migrating across busy roads to the ponds in which they once hatched in order to breed, by joining evening toad patrols organised by the national charity Froglife.

Bracing Winter Walks

In place of her regular Nature Notes, Marion proposed two Winter Walks for BBC Radio Kent listeners during the festive season. For the first, broadcast on Christmas Eve, she focussed on The Pilgrims Way, talking about some of the differences between what pilgrims in the past might have seen compared with present-day walkers and out particular stretches of great interest. On New Year's Eve, 2023, in another repeated broadcast, Marion enthused about the sights and sounds of a walk along Kent's coast between Sandwich and Broadstairs, ending at Stone Bay, which formed the inspiration for the location of the denouement in John Buchan's novel The Thirty-Nine Steps.

Fungi, Brexit and access to Kent's coast

Seeking to dispel the negative image of autumn and Halloween, Marion explained that the shedding of leaves and the breaking down of dead matter by fungi are essential elements of Nature's renewal and growth, in her monthly Nature Notes on BBC Radio Kent on 30 October 2022. She also talked about the sights and sounds of the north Kent coast in autumn, during the week in which a significant stretch of the England Coastal Path was opened. However, the day before protection for north Kent's coastal marshes' birdlife had been threatened by the tabling in the House of Commons of the Brexit Freedoms Bill.

Praise for A Right to Roam

On 28 October 2022, The Rt Hon Caroline Lucas MP tabled a private member's bill in the House of Commons which seeks to extend rights of access to the countryside of England and Wales (the Countryside and Rights of Way 2000 Act Amendment Bill). During her speech introducing her Bill, Caroline referred to Marion as a "giant of the environment movement" and her book A Right to Roam as a "landmark book".


On 11 October 2022 on BBC Radio Kent, Julia George interviewed Marion about the future of work for older people. Marion discussed the cost-of-living and the social and personal fulfilment reasons behind significant numbers of people coming out of retirement. She stressed the importance of employers valuing the special qualities of older workers, not least their experience, and the need to make allowances for their particular needs in the workplace.

The Weald / Farm Subsidies

On 2 October 2022 in her regular, monthly slot on BBC Radio Kent, Nature Notes, Marion enthused about the glories of The Weald especially in autumn, an area she described as the best extensive wooded landscape in England, and she explained why it has retained so much of its tree cover. She went on to warn of the grave dangers to wildlife which would follow an abandonment of the 'public money for public goods' approach to farm support currently then being considered by Liz Truss's government.

Rights for Care Home Residents

Marion addressed the annual conference of the ecumenical group Christians on Ageing on September 21 2022, explaining that few guarantees exist for residents' quality for life rather than quality of care in care homes. She went on to urge the introduction of new legal rights for residents, including a right of access to acts of worship and a right of access to the open-air.

Outsmarting Infirmity

In an article entitled Outsmarting Infirmity published on 9 March, 2022 in The Oldie, Marion explored ingenious practical solutions to everyday problems and urged older and disabled people reluctant to use disability equipment to customise, glamourise and add a dash of humour to it. Marion discussed her article with Julia George on BBC Radio Kent on the day of publication.

BBC Radio Kent - Nature Notes: Feeding Wild Birds

Marion talked about the flowers, butterflies and birds to be seen in early spring in Kent and explained why listeners should feed birds if the weather is inclement at that time of year in her monthly Nature Notes interview on BBC Radio Kent, Nature Notes, on 27 February 2022.

BBC Radio Kent - Nature Notes: The Swanscombe Marshes

The landscape, wildlife, recreation and historical interest of edgeland sites has long fascinated Marion and in her Nature Notes on BBC Radio Kent on 26 December 2021, she examined the wildlife, landscape and recreation value of the Swanscombe Marshes on the edge of Dartford, where media companies plan to construct a large theme park. There, a smorgasbord of previous land uses have created an assembly of soils and resulting flora and fauna which would never occur in nature so that Swanscombe Marshes have become one of the jewels in Britain's environment crown.

Trespass, beaches and Covid

Marion offers a 20-minute comment on the last Sunday morning of every month on BBC Radio Kent's Sunday Breakfast programme, covering both environment matters and older people's issues. On 25 July 2021, she discussed access issues highlighted by a mass trespass on the Sussex Downs the day before; the likely impact of climate change on Kent's beaches; and the need for prompt action on delivering booster vaccines to older and disabled people, especially those living in care homes.

Praise for This Land is Our Land

Marion's book This Land is Our Land (1987 and 1997) was singled out for special praise in an article in The Guardian on 19 July 2021 entitled 'Written in the wild: the best radical nature writing'.

Lessons of Lockdown

In an article entitled Lesson of Lockdown published in Christians on Ageing's magazine, plus, in April 2021, Marion explored ways in which the internet could enable churches to build back better, including widening the range of activities they offer at friendship clubs and enabling people who were prevented from attending church in person pre-Covid to enjoy greater contact with their church community after the lockdown restrictions have eased.

Anna Chaplaincy

A new specialism in Christian ministry involving the provision of emotional and spiritual care for older people has been pioneered in Kent. Marion outlined the development of the now UK-wide Anna Chaplaincy movement during her regular monthly slot on the Sunday Breakfast programme on BBC Radio Kent on February 28, 2021. This contribution is called Nature Notes: as well as discussing issues of the day relating to older people, she flags up the wild plants and animals to be seen in Kent during the coming month.

Vaccination of Care Staff

Marion advocated the compulsory vaccination of care staff in care homes in a letter published in The Daily Telegraph on 16 February, 2021. She also urged the compulsory vaccination of homecare staff on BBC Radio Kent on February 28 2021.

Support the Forgotten

This was the title of an article published by Christians on Ageing's magazine, plus, in November 2020 in which Marion urged that churches give special support during the lockdowns to three groups: family carers isolated at home with those for whom they are caring; people excluded from the digital world; and care home residents whom nobody is seeking to visit.

Covid vaccination

Marion chaired a discussion on January 19, 2021 on behalf of the ecumenical group Christians on Ageing about the ways in which churches can ensure that various groups of people in their church communities do not fall through the cracks of the vaccination system. Participants also looked at other ways in which churches can support older people living at home, unpaid carers, and people living in care homes during the pandemic.

Follow the Scottish Lead!

A letter urging the Department of Health and Social Care to adopt new guidance on visiting people in care homes along the lines of that promulgated in Scotland was published in The Guardian on 7 November 2020. You can read Marion's letter here.

Loneliness During the Pandemic

On BBC1's regional news magazine programme South East Today on 12 October 2020, Marion explained why many older and disabled people feel lonely during the pandemic, including their exclusion from the world of digital communication.

Faith Groups and Older People

Marion called for innovative ways in which faith groups could support self-isolating older people and those living in care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic in an article entitled How Churches Can Help Older People During the Covid Pandemic, published in The Church of England Newspaper on 24 August 2020. You can read her article here.

How Faith Groups Could Act as Attorneys

Marion proposed a new way in which volunteers such as those in faith groups could support older people in an article published in the Autumn 2020 edition of the journal of the ecumenical group Christians on Ageing, plus. You can read her article here.

Improving the Mental Well-being of People in Care Homes

Marion discussed the ways in which life could be improved for older and disabled people living in care homes during the coronavirus pandemic in an article entitled article entitled 'Care homes: how we could make amends', which was published in the Summer 2020 issue of the journal of Christians on Ageing, plus.

Visiting Care Homes during the Pandemic

On 6 June, 2020 Marion explained the rules which care homes should follow (and often aren't) on ensuring their residents can have contact with their family and friends during the restrictions on visiting prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. In this document, she also urged that homes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland be able to permit the visiting of people with mental health conditions such as dementia for whom the absence of a visitor would cause distress, as homes are already permitted to do in Scotland. You can read her document here.


Marion fielded questions about problems people may encounter in later life during a two-hour phone-in for the programme Premier Tonight broadcast by Premier Christian Radio on 16 February 2020.

Anna Chaplains

Marion gave a talk about the physical and psychological realities of ageing, with special reference to dementia during a training day for Anna Chaplains on 15 February 2020. Anna Chaplains are appointed by local churches to provide specialised support to older people.

NHS Retirement Fellowship

Marion explored issues around later life at a talk to the local branch of the NHS Retirement Fellowship in Huntingdon on 17 January 2020.

Welcome Return Trip to the Isle of Wight

Marion gave a talk entitled The Truth about Later Life at Ryde public library on the Isle of Wight on 29 November 2019.

BBC Radio Kent

Marion offered the thought for the day as a panellist on BBC Radio Kent's Sunday Programme on 17 November. She also appeared as a panel member on the show on 13 October, 2019 and 9 February, 2020.

The Great Outdoors

Marion gave a talk urging greater access to the outdoors for people living in care homes during a research symposium at Luther King House, Manchester on 14 November 2019.

CPRE Future Policy

Marion took part in a one-day seminar at the Campaign to Protect Rural England's national office in London on 16 October 2019. She offered some thoughts about the future direction CPRE policy might take on land ownership and the enjoyment of the countryside as part of CPRE's review of future policy directions. Marion worked at CPRE national office as a planning specialist in the mid-1970s.

Return visit

Marion returned to give a second talk about later life matters to the Medway Pensioners Forum on 18 September 2019.

Library talks

Marion gave an interactive talk entitled The Truth about Later Life at public libraries in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames on 6 and 13 September 2019.

Education matters

Marion gave the after-dinner speech at the annual meeting of the alumni organisation of Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School in Ramsgate, Kent on 23 June 2019, reflecting on the areas of knowledge and expertise the school had imparted which proved helpful to her in her post-school career and other subjects it could usefully have added to the curriculum.

Concern for the Environment

On 3 June 2019, Marion gave a talk at a conference at Kings College, London about the birth of the modern environment movement in Britain.


On 26 May 2019, Marion was a panellist on BBC Radio Kent's Sunday Programme. Taking place at the close of Dementia Action Week, Marion discussed issues involving dementia at several points during the programme, including in her 'thought for the day '.

An Urban Right to Roam?

On 23 May 2019, Marion took part in a seminar organised by the London branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) entitled Your Right to the City: Do We Need an Urban Right to Roam?

Dementia talk

On 23 May 2019, Marion gave a two-hour interactive talk at Wimbledon library as part of the library's programme of events for Dementia Action Week, Marion discussed issues involving dementia at several points during the programme, including in her 'thought for the day'.

How to Handle Later Life

On 20 May 2019, Marion gave a talk at Deal public library in Kent drawing out some of the themes in her book How to Handle Later Life.

The Truth about Later Life

On 2 May 2019, Marion gave a talk at Southsea library in Hampshire entitled The Truth about Later Life.

Sunday Programme

On 14 April 2019, Marion took part in BBC Radio Kent's Sunday Programme and offered a 'thought for the day'.

The Truth about Later Life

Marion gave a talk at Gravesend library in Kent entitled 'The Truth about Later Life' on 21 March, 2019

Getting on

On 21 January, 2019 Marion gave a talk at the Lord Louis Library, Newport, Isle of Wight entitled 'Make the Third Age the Best Age'.

Shared rights over land

On 12 December, 2018, Marion took part in a conference in Manchester organised by Shared Assets which explored the community ownership of land.

The Sunday Programme

Marion was a panellist on BBC Radio Kent's The Sunday Programme on 7 October 2018 and offered a 'thought for the day'.

Churches and Older People

In October, 2018 Reform Magazine (the magazine of the United Reformed Church) published a feature article by Marion entitled How to Help Older People offering guidance to church leaders about ways in which they can best support older people. You can read this article here.

The Invention of Later Life

On 28 August Marion gave a talk about the invention of the concept of later life and myths surrounding the practical realities confronting older people to Enfield Over-50s Forum in Enfield, London.

Panel discussion about Ageism

On 28 June 2018 Marion took part in a panel discussion with Lara Crisp (the editor of Gransnet), Phoebe Grudzinskas (the project director of Cocktails in Care Homes) and the writer and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter at the Royal Society for Public Health in London about the Royal Society's report 'That Age Old Question'.

Training for Pharmacists

An article entitled 'Healthy Ageing' by Sara Jankovic which quotes Marion extensively was published in the July 2018 issue of the magazine for pharmacists Training Matters. You can read the article here. You can find more information about Training Matters at

Myths about Ageing

On 27 June 2018 Marion gave a talk at a meeting of the Medway Pensioners Forum in Rochester in which she discussed myths about ageing and the development of the idea of later life.

Ageism debate

On 8 June 2018 Marion debated the nature of ageism in society with Chloe Pelly on BBC 1's Victoria Derbyshire programme and also with Rachael Bland and Chris Mason on BBC Radio Five 5's 5 Live Drive after publication of the report by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Royal Society for Public Health entitled 'That Age Old Question'.

How Churches can Help Older People

On 8 June, 2018 the Church of England Newspaper published a feature article by Marion in which she put forward ten aspects of the lives of older people of which clergy should be aware, from the limitations of retirement housing to the healthcare rights set down in the NHS Constitution.

The Simple Things

Editor of The Simple Things, Alex Reece, interviewed Marion about her background, views and recent activities in the April 2018 issue of the magazine. You can read the interview here.

The Land of the Poets Talk

Marion gave a talk entitled 'The Land of the Poets' at a conference organised by the Friends of the Dymock Poets on April 14, 2018. She had been a member of the FDP since its formation and her talk focussed on the social and economic life of the corner of north-east Gloucestershire where the poets assembled in years leading up to the outbreak of World War 1.

Talks to Older People's Groups

Marion often gives talks to older people's organisations, in particular older people's forums and University of the Third Age groups. On 10 March 2018, for example, she addressed 200 members of York U3A, to put forward 'My Top Ten Tips for Later Life'.

Access to Woodland

In January 2018 The Land magazine published an article by Marion urging the creation of a right of access on foot to Britain's woods as part of the celebrations of the Charter of the Forest, which you can read here.

Housing Choices in Later Life

Marion gave a talk about housing choices in later life at Love Later Life information and advice day organised by The Abbeyfield Kent Society at Northfleet, Kent on 25 October, 2017.

The Countryside after Brexit

Marion gave a talk to civil servants at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 24 October, 2017 in which she put forward a package of proposals for countryside policy post-Brexit.

Understanding the Edgelands

Marion gave a talk about the special character of edgeland landscapes and the threats faced by the edgelands around London at a Museum of London soirée hosted by the architectural historian Tom Keeley and writer Ken Worple on 10 October, 2017. You can read her award-winning essay entitled Edgelands here.

Wild camping

Marion discussed the ban on wild camping in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park with travel writer Phoebe Smith on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours on 29 September 2017.

Launch of How to Handle Later Life

On 27 September, 2017 Marion gave a talk at the launch of her book How to Handle Later Life at Waterstones Tunbridge Wells entitled 'My top ten tips about later life... and a radical new idea'.

The Charter of the Forest

Marion gave a talk about the history of the struggle over land rights in Britain and the need for greater rights of access for walkers, especially through the introduction of a legal right to walk in all woodland, at an 800th anniversary celebration of the Charter of the Forest near Runnymede on 17 September 2017.

New book on older people's issues

In September 2017, Marion's new book, How to Handle Later Life, was published by Amaranth Books. Its 1,160 pages provide frank, unsparing and comprehensive guidance to every aspect of ageing, from retirement housing to hospitals, equity release to dementia care.

BBC Radio Nottingham interview

Marion gave a talk about her new book, How to Handle Later Life, at the Lowdham Book Festival on 2 June 2017, while Alan Clifford interviewed her the day before on BBC Radio Nottingham.

Make the Third Age the Best Age

Marion gave a talk to Bromley U3A on 28 March 2017 highlighting the positive - and negative - aspects of being an older person in today's Britain.

Tackling loneliness in later life

Marion chaired a conference in Edinburgh examining social isolation and loneliness amoung older people on 22 March 2017, organised by Holyrood Communications.

What does the budget mean for older people?

Steph McGovern interviewed Marion on BBC Breakfast on 8 and 9 March 2017 about the implications for older people of the budget. The programme was filmed at the Bournville Gardens retirement village in Birmingham.

The future of the countryside post-Brexit

Marion appeared with a panel of other experts on the top of Stanage Edge on 9 September 2016 to discuss the implications of the Brexit vote on agricultural subsidies, access, recreation and rewilding.

Writer - Environmentalist - Older People's Advocate

How can we make better use of the outdoors to improve our physical and mental health both during the coronavirus pandemic and in the long-term? What should be the aims of a fundamental reform of the social care system and how should changes be funded? What can you do to enjoy a happy and healthy later life? How can we prevent devastating change to the landscape and wildlife of our countryside post-Brexit? These are the kinds of questions which exercise me and to which you may find answers here.

In both the fields of conflicts over the use of Britain's land and issues of special interest to older people, I write books and articles, take part in TV and radio interviews and phone-ins, and give talks - at conferences, meetings of voluntary organisations, book festivals and to students.

Marion Shoard on Wikipedia             Marion Shoard on Twitter

How to Handle Later LifeHow to Handle Later Life

Marion’s latest book in the older people’s field, How to Handle Later Life, was published by Amaranth Books in September, 2017. Running to 1160 pages, it is a comprehensive guide to every aspect of ageing, from retirement housing to hospitals, equity release to dementia care.

How to Handle Later Life is available from bookshops, Amaranth Books and from the distributors, Central Books.

"There should be a copy in every library, council office, doctor's practice, MP's surgery, Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK office, if not in every household." Third Age Matters (national magazine of the U3A movement)

"Extremely well written, informative, well thought-through, and the writing style makes it easily accessible to a wide range of readers. ... Everyone should read this book." Nursing Times

You can read reviews of this book, the table of contents, introduction, summary and four sample sections here.

Countryside conservation, countryside access and land ownership

My interest in countryside conservation was first fired while I was studying zoology at Oxford University. At first, wildlife conservation and the conservation of the world's natural resources were my main concerns. After working for four years for the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) in the mid-1970s, I left to investigate the impact of modern farming on the wild plants and animals of the English countryside. However, this investigation soon also embraced the impact of modern farming on the landscape and historical value of the countryside. I talked to people in towns and villages whose lives had been affected by unrestrained landscape change wrought by modern farming, as well as to farmers themselves, landowners and specialists in wildlife, archaeology and public policy on agriculture and on town and country planning. These investigations yielded my first book, The Theft of the Countryside. This examined the damage already caused and urged radical measures to prevent further destruction.

Land ownership in the UK - who owns the land and the powers which the law allows them absorbed my thoughts over the next few years and in 1987 my book This Land is Our Land. This proposed a new social contract between landowners (public and private) and the wider population, including the introduction of a 'right to roam'. This Land is Our Land was published in tandem with a Channel 4 programme, Power in the Land, which I presented. During the 1990s, I held lecturing posts in rural planning at University College, London and Reading University.

Gaia Books reissued This Land is Our Land as a Gaia Classic in 1997. In my third book, A Right to Roam (1999), I turned again to the idea of greater freedom to roam over the countryside. I examined the struggle over rights of access to Britain’s countryside over the past 1,000 years, looked at the ways in which alternative access systems overseas operate and put forward a detailed plan of how a general right of access on foot to the countryside of the UK could take shape on the ground.

The Sidney Perry Foundation, The Leverhulme Trust and the Nuffield Foundation have funded my research into landscape change and countryside access over the years. I campaigned for improvements to what became the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (for England and Wales) and the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, just as I had twenty years before to what became the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

In recent years I have become interested in what may be the most distinctive yet maligned landscape of our time: the edgelands – that is, the hotchpotch collection of superstores, sewage works, golf courses and surprisingly wildlife-rich roughlands which sit between town and country in the urban fringe.

A Right to Roam and an essay entitled 'Edgelands' Edgelands have both won awards from the Outdoors Writers and Photographers Guild.

In 2006 I was voted one of the top 100 most influential environmental activists by The Guardian. In 2009 the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild presented me with its Golden Eagle Award for a lifetime's achievement in the world of the outdoors.

I remain deeply interested in environment matters. More information on my environment work can be found here: Environment | Land Ownership | CPRE | Right to Roam | Awards