Posted on 01/10/2015

3 eccentrics who sum up Older People’s Day perfectly

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3 eccentrics who sum up Older People’s Day perfectly

Getting older isn’t what it used to be. As a population, we’re living longer than ever before, with current UK estimates from the Office for National Statistics putting female life expectancy from birth at 83.0 years and men at 79.3 years.

Although it’s a sad fact there will always be some older people living with an age related illness or disability that restricts their experiences, there are many who are able to keep on living life to the full.

Today marks the 25th International Day of Older Persons – created to celebrate the achievements and contributions that older people make to our society and the economy, whilst also promoting healthy lifestyles.

In recognition of this, we’re sharing our 3 favourite stories of the amazing men and women who truly embody the spirit of Older People’s Day and continue to prove that age really is just a number.

Helen Ruth Van Winkle AKA Baddie Winkle, 87, Instagram Sensation

Baddie Winkle - photo by EPA
Photo: EPA

With the world of digital exploding over the last decade, many older people have found adapting and accepting new forms of technology has helped to combat their loneliness and give them a new lease of life.

Helen Ruth Van Winkle is living proof of this.

Using her alias Baddie Winkle, the 87 year old great-grandmother has become a sensation on popular image sharing site Instagram – gaining 1.6 million followers and even hanging out with A-List celebrities like Nicole Ritchie and the infamous Miley Cyrus!

Having lost both her son and husband a number of years ago, Helen admits she fought for years to try and get over their deaths. “I cried all the time because I couldn’t come to terms with it. So I made myself over into Baddie Winkle. This new chapter in my life, I’m looking forward to it.”

We think you’re superb Baddie and we wish you all the best.

Hidekichi “Golden Bolt” Miyazaki, 105, World’s Oldest Competitive Sprinter

Hidekichi Miyazaki - photo by @alastairhimmer
Photo: @alastairhimmer

There aren’t many centenarians who would consider running a 100m race, but that’s exactly what Hidekichi Miyazaki did on 23rd September this year – just one day after celebrating his 105th birthday.

Competing at the Kyoto Masters Athletics Autumn Competition in Japan, Miyazaki ran 100m in 42.22 seconds breaking his own record for Oldest Competitive Sprinter. He also holds the 100 meters Guinness World Record for centenarians at 29.83 seconds – an impressive feat, considering he only began running in his late 90’s.

Nicknamed “Golden Bolt” after boldly imitating Usain Bolt’s renowned lightening pose, Miyazaki is even keen to challenge the famous Jamaican to a sprint-off! We admire your ambition Mr Miyazaki and we hope to see you continue your record-breaking streak next year.

Grace Brett, 104, Yarn Bombing Legend

Grace Brett - photo by SWNSRealFix
Photo: SWNS/RealFix

You wouldn’t expect an urban street artist to come in the form of a 104-year-old guerrilla knitter – but this description sums up the wonderful Grace Brett exactly.

Born in Lewisham, London on November 6 1910, Grace has been living in the village of Darnick, Scotland until this year and is a member of a secret band of yarn bombers called the Souter Stormers. Last week, the group was responsible for the eccentric decoration of various landmarks in Selkirk, Scottish Borders, and they were thrilled to have the country’s oldest knitter turn street artist on board for the project.

Knitting is a passion of Grace’s and she has made many items for her 6 grand children and 16 great grand children over the years. Now living in a care home with poor memory, knitting allows Grace to keep busy whilst putting her crochet talents to a creative and imaginative use.

We think her creations are out-of-this-world and it just goes to show that talent certainly doesn’t diminish with age.

Get involved and follow the campaign on Twitter today using #IDOP2015 #60PLUS and #FullOfLife. Or check out @UN4Ageing and @OlderPeoplesDay

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