By Becca Husselbee
A retiree is planning her own round-the-world senior GAP YEAR – after seeing her three sons jet off around the world and thought she would so the same.
Catherine Galaska, 61, watched with envy as her three boys jetted off around the world before heading off to university.
And after retiring from her job as an NHS manager, she decided to embrace her wanderlust – booking trips to learn to ski, and decided to learn salsa dancing in Cuba.
But now, the adventurous retiree has had a boost to her pension – after being crowned the winner of a competition to find a senior citizen deserving of a £10,000 round-the-world trip.
Catherine, from Scoreton, Lancaster, is now planning her trip and is looking forward to jetting off in the next few weeks after her twins boys Miles and Conor, 32 and son Kieran, 26, have all their fair share of travelling.
Catherine said:”I had an email from a friend about the competition as she knew it would be something I would be up for.
“I still can’t believe I’m now getting the opportunity and I have told my three boys that they are now going to have to make an appointment to see me!
“They have done gaps years and my one son has recently been travelling to LA for work, so you could say it runs in the family.
“I never had the chance when I left school and back then it wasn’t the done thing. When I was growing up people were only just going on package holidays.
“I really wanted to make the most of my retirement and I have a real passion for dancing. I do ballet, salsa and take Zumba classes.
Catherine has big plans and hopes to travel to Brazil, Argentina and Chile as well as the west coast of America, south-east Asia and Sydney harbour for New Year’s celebrations.
The family often travelled around Europe in a campervan, visiting France, Italy, Germany and Poland but after winning the competition Catherine will be travelling in luxury.
Even though Catherine graduated from Manchester University with a public administration degree back in 1974 she thinks that she will be viewing the gap year in a completely different way to how she would have in her younger years.
Catherine said: “I think I will be embracing it more and will definitely be a lot more prepared.
“When you’re younger you don’t think things through as much and just hope for the best as it’s all about the comradery.
“I am in the process of planning where my journey will take me, but skiing and salsa dancing will definitely be on my agenda during what will undoubtedly be the trip of a lifetime.
“I have been collecting a lot of brochures and hope to plan around events and being in certain countries for the right season.
Twins, Miles and Connor both went on separate gap years in 2004 at the age of the 18, with Conor travelling across the US and Canada and Miles starting his journey in shanghai, ending in America.
Although son, Kieran, didn’t go on his own gap year he recently travelled to LA as part of his job as a videographer.
Catherine said: “Having cheerfully, if also tearfully, waved my twin sons off on their respective gap years some years ago, I can’t wait for them to do the same for me now.”
Stephanie Corbett, Head of Travel Insurance from comparethemarket.com, which ran the competition, said: “With Brits focussing on their careers more than ever, many have forgone the chance to take time off purely for themselves, to travel and explore the world.
“Following on the success of our student gap year initiative last year, we wanted to open it up to those who are now retired, and have perhaps never been given the opportunity to explore the world care-free.
“Catherine has shown that she would relish the opportunity of a Senior Gap Year. We can’t wait to see where she decides to jet of to and read his blog has he travels.”