Travel tops bucket lists

16 May 2014
Travelling more, having children and seeing them grow up, and winning the lottery have been voted as the top things people would like to do before they die, in a national survey carried out by Marie Curie Cancer Care as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week, which ran from 12-18 May.

“Travel more” was the most common response given in the survey of 2,334 British adults, with Australia, the USA - particularly New York - and New Zealand cited as the most desirable destinations, along with a round the world trip. “Having children” and “seeing my children grow up, get married or graduate” were the next most common things people said they would like to do before they die.

"Winning the lottery” was the third most popular bucket list item, followed by a “sky dive or parachute jump.” “Getting married”; “writing a book and having it published”; “buying a house”; “seeing the Northern Lights” and “emigrating/living abroad” were also among the most common responses.

Marie Curie also asked celebrity supporters for their bucket list choices. Actor and comedian Ricky Tomlinson said: "That's an easy one. The most challenging thing on my bucket list is to finish building a fish pond in the garden that I started 10 years ago!”

Stephen Merchant said that, just once, he'd love to feature in a women's magazine as ‘best dressed’ rather than ‘weird crush’. Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes expressed a desire to "walk the Great Wall of China with my family - and no zimmer frame”.

Actress Alison Steadman said: "I would really to make a documentary about the overuse of plastics in our precious world. I'm passionate about banning plastic bags in supermarkets and raising awareness of the danger and pollution they're causing.”

Other celebrity bucket list choices

  • Ann Widdecombe: “To learn to sing in tune and stop embarrassing everyone else in church.”
  • Jason Isaacs:  To make a joke in public "and see my daughters look at me with anything other than total contempt, pity and horror”.
  • Arabella Weir:  “Dance a Michael Jackson routine with Justin Timberlake and Usher.”
  • Noddy Holder:  Sail the seven seas in his own yacht because “all the nice girls love a sailor”.
  • Bill Oddie: “I get called up on stage at a Prince concert and he hands me a mike and we end up dueting. What's more, he is reasonably impressed!” 
  • Edwina Currie: “The Taj Mahal - with someone lovely.”

Interestingly, some respondents revealed that they had not considered their own death or that they were reluctant, or even superstitious, about thinking about the subject. Responses included, “I’ve not thought about death”; “I’m 74. I don’t intend to die till I’m 95, so I haven’t thought about it” and “I don’t have a bucket list, as if I did tick everything off, would I sit back and wait to die?”

Imelda Redmond, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie, commented: “People in Britain have a very clear idea of the things they would like to achieve while they are alive. However, the vast majority of people are still uncomfortable discussing death and dying, and are reluctant to make plans for the end of their lives. Without having these crucial conversations with friends and family – such as where people would like to spend their final days - it’s likely that people’s end of life wishes will not be met. We know that most people would like to be cared for at home at the end of their lives for instance, but the majority of deaths still occur in hospital – the place people least want to be.”

Claire Henry, Chief Executive of the Dying Matters Coalition, said: “Every minute someone in Britain dies, but for many people talking about dying and facing up to their own mortality remains something either to be delayed for as long as possible or ignored altogether. While dying is one of life’s few certainties, the majority of people are still shunning important conversations about their wishes. That’s why we want to see a national conversation on dying, so that all of us become more comfortable in making our end of life wishes known and talking about the things we would like to do before we die.”

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