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Career change at 70 sees Henri living his best life with positive thinking, Pilates, farming at 91

Ninety-one-year-old macadamia farmer Henri Bader thinks “retirement” is a word that should be erased from the dictionary.

“It’s a terrible word, a redundant word, it’s so negative that it’s unbelievable,” Mr Bader says.

“To retire? That is a silly idea because you’ve got all your faculties, so use them and enjoy them.”

Mr Bader is a true testament to the power of positive thinking and constantly pushing boundaries to get the most out of life.

After being ‘let go’ at the age of 70 from his job as a sales manager, Mr Bader decided to embark on a new career as a farmer.

“They looked at me as this 70-year-old dodderer, and decided that they would dispense with me, but that was OK because it didn’t fit with my ideology,” he says.

“I knew I still had plenty of work left in me.”

Mr Bader bought a patch of bare land at Knockrow in northern NSW and set about building Letava Estate, drawing the word from his native South Africa.

“Everyone thought I was completely crazy when I expressed my view that I wanted to get back to my roots on the land,” he says.

“They were all getting off their land at the age of 70.”

Letava has grown to be a productive enterprise spanning three properties boasting around 25,000 macadamia trees.

In the second 50 years of his life, Mr Bader has emigrated to Australia, remarried, and sent himself off to TAFE to gain the knowledge he needed for his new farming enterprise.

“Life is a question of attitude,” he says.

“Over the years I’ve had many, many ups and downs and I have always managed to pick myself up, brush myself off and keep going.

“I’ve used those down times as a lesson.”

Dashing off for a lunch date, Mr Bader says he also works hard to maintain social connections and his physical health by walking and doing Pilates several times a week.

“I’ve kept myself fit because I had to build my body up for farming,” he says.

“You’ve got to retain your social consciousness, you have to be active and do things, after all we live in a very interesting world.”

Inspiring others
Martin Brooke says his friend of 15 years is an inspiration.

“He’s just extraordinary,” Mr Brooke says.

“His brain and his thinking is like a 20-year-old.

“He has this extraordinary enthusiasm for things he is passionate about and I just think he really is special and incredibly positive.”

Mr Bader says everything he does is for his family, including crafting woodwork pieces in his ‘spare time’ to give them as gifts.

His works include a chair inspired by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, which he learnt to make when he was in his late 80s by watching a YouTube video.

“We only make use of 20 per cent of our capabilities, so why not make use of the other 80 per cent?” he says.

“Forget about what you can’t do and focus on what you can do; forget about yesterday and focus on tomorrow.”