OCL member dances into her 93rd year at Oldham Leisure Centre

VIOLET Walpole was surprised during her weekly line dancing class by the team at Oldham Community Leisure (OCL) with celebratory cupcakes and flowers to mark her 93rd birthday.

The super-fit grandma, who lives in Middleton, catches two buses to the leisure centre, which takes about an hour, and has been attending the line dancing classes for about six years.

Stuart Lockwood, OCL Chief Executive, said: “Happy Birthday to the ever-youthful Violet!  She is an inspiration to us all.

“We were delighted to treat Violet for her birthday. She’s a wonderful dancer and proof that you are only as old as you feel. We should all try and be a bit more like Violet!”

Violet said: “I love line dancing – the classes at OCL are a real hoot! Anyone can do it and everyone is welcome.

“Dancing makes me so happy. I first started dancing back when I was a teenager and used to enjoy ballroom dancing. I don’t plan to stop any time soon.”

Violet, who was a ‘cotton mill girl’ in her youth, was delighted with her birthday treats and was touched by everyone’s best wishes.

She added: “I can’t believe that everyone remembered! I feel very special. Age is just a number. I don’t let it slow me down.

“I’m going to London to see my grandson to celebrate my birthday too. Being active and fit keeps me young.

“I’ve made lots of friends at OCL; you can’t help but enjoy the line dance class. The music, the dance routines, the fantastic instructor and the laughter. Everyone has a smile on their face.”

Violet returned to her weekly line dance classes as soon at OCL reopened its doors in July after the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

She said: “The leisure centre is very well organised and I feel really looked after and safe.

“During lockdown I stayed with my daughter-in-law, Tina. I was widowed 19 years ago and lost my son six years ago, and I’m very close with Tina.

“It was good to stay with Tina during lockdown but as soon as restrictions lifted I wanted to return home and get back to my line dancing. Having a schedule and getting out of the house is really important as we get older.

“My strong faith is the secret of my long life. I also firmly believe it’s essential to keep active, to put your best ‘dancing’ foot forward and to stay positive.”

Tina has been so impressed with Violet’s line dancing classes that she is thinking of coming along herself so together they can get their dancing shoes on.

Stuart added: “Health and wellness has never been more important. OCL prides itself on being inclusive and supportive of all our customers and their individual fitness requirements.

“We really do have classes and activities for everyone, whatever their age, background or ability.”

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