WHEN Alan Potter left his job as director for education and learning at Croydon Council in April, he set his mind on starting up his own business.
Now with help from the Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise, Mr Potter, 55, has launched Silver Rising with the aim of providing learning courses for the elderly.
With no experience in the business world, the Prince's Initiative offered him advice and support in drawing up a business plan and getting his new company off the ground.
The Initiative centres its activities on providing backing and advice to the over-50s keen to move into self-employment.
Commenting on the value of the business course, Mr Potter said: "Sometimes you don't realise how easy it can be to get started in business when there is such good quality help available.
"You don't need a fully formed idea and you don't need to know everything about business because the help is there, with people to guide you."
Mr Potter, who still lives in Croydon, said his aim was to work primarily with care homes and voluntary groups who support elderly people.
He said: "You hear about elderly people who say they are doing a lot but often what they are doing does not have purpose."
He wanted to devise activities which would provide that purpose.
He intended to encourage groups to look at the kind of activities they were providing to see if the could be adapted or expanded to provide more stimulus for the people they were looking after.
Mr Potter said: "I would like to see groups providing activities which are not just a supplement to people's lives or doing the same thing over and over again."
For example, he said, elderly people could be encouraged to volunteer to go into schools and share their wealth of experiences with the younger generation.
Mr Potter said: "It is assumed that as people get older their capacity to learn decreases but the fact is that memory can improve with age."
He was confident that a combination of what he describes as "whole-life learning" with a healthy lifestyle would being great benefits to people as they got older.
He said: "Not only can we help them to widen their education it is also possible improve their lives both medically and socially."
Mr Potter added: "What I want to do is help bring about a generation of people who are more independent."