From the Ed­i­tor’s Desk

Evergreen - - Contents - An­ge­line Wil­cox

In a sum­mer which was woe­fully short of good news I came across a story which re­ally made me smile. It con­cerned a lady named Betty Bro­mage, from Ev­er­green’s home town of Cheltenham. On a clear June day, this former nurse took to the skies strapped to the wings of a vin­tage bi­plane and achieved a new record by be­com­ing the UK’s old­est fe­male wing- walker. Betty, you see, is 88 and firmly be­lieves that: “You are never too old.” Her as­ton­ish­ing achieve­ment saw the grand­mother of two break­ing her own record, which she set in 2016. Ad­mit­ting that she had al­ways been “a bit of a dare­devil”, both her air­borne feats were for charity, the lat­est for the Cobalt Health ap­peal, and she reached heights of 200 feet at 140 miles an hour! What’s more, she’s promised that, as long as she’s fit, she’ll do the same next year.

What I loved about Betty’s story, was that it epit­o­mised the de­ter­mined, ex­u­ber­ant and gen­er­ous spirit of the older gen­er­a­tion. Here was a joy­ful af­fir­ma­tion of age in an era that is ob­ses­sively fo­cused on youth. Valu­ing those who rep­re­sent the fu­ture is vi­tally im­por­tant, but it shouldn’t be at the ex­clu­sion of peer groups from the past and present. They still have so much to of­fer.

Of course, nei­ther you nor I need re­mind­ing of this. The won­der­ful mem­o­ries you share with us, and the in­cred­i­ble his­tory you have lived through ( your ages range from 50 to over 100!), are a source of ad­mi­ra­tion, fas­ci­na­tion and de­light. How­ever, I am also aware that in cer­tain ar­eas of so­ci­ety, ap­pre­ci­a­tion of and re­spect for the el­derly are painfully lack­ing. The wis­dom and vast ex­pe­ri­ences gained from a long life are of­ten be­lit­tled, or harshly dis­missed. Just lately, though, I’m de­tect­ing that thanks to the ef­fer­ves­cent, in­domitable char­ac­ter of the golden gen­er­a­tion, at­ti­tudes to­wards age are fi­nally start­ing to change.

For­get the “Youthquake”, we are liv­ing at a time when the num­ber of cen­te­nar­i­ans has ex­ceeded 14,500, the high­est ever. With bet­ter health

care and liv­ing stan­dards many peo­ple are, where pos­si­ble, choos­ing to de­lay re­tire­ment and work longer. We cer­tainly aren’t short of in­spir­ing in­di­vid­u­als who sur­pass those of us a frac­tion of their age, with their work ethic and en­ergy. Surely the most out­stand­ing are Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip who, at the ages of 91 and 96 re­spec­tively, are ex­em­plary in their ded­i­cated ser­vice to the na­tion. Even though Prince Philip is, quite de­servedly, re­tir­ing from pub­lic du­ties, he shows no sign of slow­ing down. The Queen, mean­while, con­tin­ues her de­mand­ing sched­ule of en­gage­ments and, in fre­quently un­cer­tain times, re­mains a con­stant guid­ing fig­ure­head for us all. This Novem­ber the royal cou­ple will reach an­other mile­stone, their 70th wed­ding an­niver­sary.

The field of en­ter­tain­ment glit­ters with a stel­lar cast of ac­tors, co­me­di­ans, singers and mu­si­cians whose con­tin­u­ing per­for­mances show­case their ex­cep­tional, time­less tal­ents. From Ken Dodd to Ian McKellen, Judi Dench to Paul McCartney, and Mag­gie Smith to Tom Jones, be­tween them they bring en­joy­ment to au­di­ences of all ages. If you lis­ten to Just a Minute on Ra­dio Four there, with­out a mo­ment’s hes­i­ta­tion or de­vi­a­tion, is 93- yearold Ni­cholas Par­sons who has kept or­der among the con­tes­tants for more than four decades. The list of these en­dur­ing stars is end­less and, like them or loathe them, there’s no deny­ing the stay­ing power and pop­u­lar­ity of the 1960s pop group The Rolling Stones who are still tour­ing well into their sev­en­ties at a col­lec­tive age of 293!

Lit­er­ary his­tory in­cludes other late- life lu­mi­nar­ies: Daniel De­foe ( 1660- 1731) was 60 when his clas­sic Robin­son Cru­soe was pub­lished; Peter Mark Ro­get ( 17791869) com­piled his fa­mous Th­e­saurus at the age of 73; and the best­selling nov­el­ist Mary Wes­ley ( 1912- 2002) had her first novel pub­lished when she was 70. Such are the cre­ative re­wards to be reaped from age and ex­pe­ri­ence.

But be­sides these fa­mous folk, there are nu­mer­ous men and women across Bri­tain to­day whose wor­thy ef­forts and en­deav­ours de­serve high­light­ing. If you know of some, why not write in and tell us about these Ev­er­green Stars and we’ll fea­ture them in fu­ture is­sues? Apart from charity wing- walker Betty, an­other ex­am­ple I would like to men­tion is An­gel Ra­dio ( www.an­gel­ra­dio.co.uk). This fan­tas­tic sta­tion was es­tab­lished by Tony Smith in Ha­vant, Hamp­shire, spe­cially for the older gen­er­a­tion — many of whom have be­come the sta­tion’s val­ued vol­un­teers. From its lo­cal be­gin­nings, An­gel now has lis­ten­ers across the UK and world­wide, tun­ing into its friendly chat, by­gone mu­sic and nos­tal­gia. It is a mar­vel­lous ven­ture.

Au­tumn is the sea­son when we cel­e­brate a rich harvest, so let’s cheer the Ev­er­green spirit as we cham­pion this glo­ri­ous, golden gen­er­a­tion.

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