Granny’s keep life extremeJuly 3, 2008
Last month we brought you some stories of octogenarians still practicing their extreme sports – well today here are three ladies, all of whom are over 60, who are still getting up and getting out there in their chosen arena. Thanks to the Mirror.co.uk.
“It’s freedom really. Surfing takes you away from the daily grind”
Gwynedd Haslock, 62, is Cornwall’s veteran lady of the surf. She has been riding the waves for more than 40 years…
“As surfing hunks in their twenties swagger into the sea I probably cut quite a different figure. I was splashing around in the surf while most of my fellow thrill-seekers were merely a twinkle in their parents’ eyes and it’s still my favourite pastime in the world.
Growing up in Truro, I started surfing in Newquay as a teenager and was soon addicted to the exhilarating experience of riding a wave. Back then we had short, stubby, wooden boards so you’d paddle along on your front. But in 1966, huge 10ft boards came into fashion and it was so exciting. I started to surf standing up and never grew out of it.
I find it’s a great way of unwinding. I usually go out on my own, although occasionally my brother and his family will come with me, but I meet up with lots of people of all ages. Everyone is respectful of each other and respectful of the sea. When you’re in the water on your board you’re aware of just how powerful the ocean is. Although I once had my daredevil days tackling massive waves, I now stick to nothing bigger than about three foot. Years ago, I got dumped by a horrific wave. It was quite big and heavy and I got caught under it. It rolled me over and over and I didn’t know which way was up.
When I was younger and fitter I’d take risks, but now I know my limitations and stay within them. I really don’t know if I’ll still be surfing at 80. I live for today as you never know what is around the corner. While I’m able, I’ll carry on. If people comment that I’m too old to surf then I really don’t care. I do what I want to do. It’s freedom, really. Surfing takes you away from the daily grind.”
“The hardest thing at my age is climbing in and out of the cockpit”
Kathy Lawrence, 76, from Melton Mowbray, gets her thrills flying high above the Leicestershire countryside…
“Other grannies might be content to take it easy, but I’m never happier than when I’m gliding through the sky. I’ve been piloting gliders for 27 years and although some people probably think I’m past it, I have no plans to hang up my flying goggles just yet. It’s too much fun!
I first got the flying bug in 1959 when I was five months pregnant. I’d always wanted to do it and went on my first flight in an open cockpit glider side-by-side with a pilot. I absolutely loved it. But it took another 20 years before I finally took the plunge to learn to fly independently. I enrolled in a course at Buckminster Gliding Club in 1981, where I have been a member ever since.
Over the years I’ve flown in New Zealand, Spain and the Canadian Rockies, and have not been without my hairy experiences.
Once, during my early training days, a cable broke, I panicked and did the wrong thing and got us into a spin. It was only the instructor’s quick thinking that saved our lives. But it didn’t put me off! I’m always learning. Only recently I made a navigational error while taking a passenger on a trial flight. I realised we’d gone off course and had to look for a field to land in. Thankfully, we got there safely and the glider was taken to pieces and transported back to the airfield. My passenger even said he’d like to fly with me again so he can’t have been too upset.
My dear school friend often teases, ‘It’s time you gave this up!’ but I say, ‘Not likely!’
I have an annual medical check, and have to prove my flying ability regularly, so while I continue to pass it I’ll carry on flying! I really believe that doing something you’re passionate about keeps you going. For me it’s a passion rather than a hobby. The hardest thing at my age is climbing in and out of the cockpit!”
“Dancing has given us all a new lease of life”
Grandmother Dot Bremner, 69, from Keith, Scotland, is the founder of Hip Bumpers, a different kind of dance troupe.
“At 69, the last place I expected to find myself was swinging round a pole in a lap-dancing club – but since I set up Hip Bumpers anything goes!
The idea is that us ladies of a certain age meet every Monday to try out a different dance routine. Some we make up ourselves, others are taught to us by teachers we’ve been able to hire thanks to a National Lottery grant – and it only costs our members a pound.
We’ve tried cheerleading, line-dancing and belly-dancing, but the pole dancing came about by complete accident. I’d actually suggested Polish dancing but one of our ladies misheard me. When she revealed the mistake I just laughed and said, ‘Why not?’ So, decked out in shorts, T-shirts and cowboy hats, myself and my friends were soon scaling the pole at a local club in Elgin. I was hopeless at it and soon collapsed in a fit of giggles. But I have to say it’s a beautiful art. The girls who do it are very, very fit.
Our members are aged between 40 and 80 and Hip Busters has given many a new lease of life. They dance, but it’s also a social thing, which is important. Since the group began in September 2006 we’ve been inundated with requests to perform. We do all kinds of appearances and recently performed to 120 adults with various learning disabilities, showing them the South African Gumboot dance. It was just wonderful.
We’ll often help charities, collecting for Marie Curie or other causes, and this year we raised around £1,500 for good causes. We don’t put ourselves up to be anything special. We’re just ordinary people enjoying ourselves because that’s what life is all about.”
Respect ladies – such a positive attitude is not only good to hear about but it is the way everyone should live their lives.