Sexagenarians are relishing their impending 70s

Helen Mirren is Yorkshire 60-somethings most inspirational 70 year old
Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Helen Mirren is Yorkshire 60-somethings most inspirational 70 year old Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

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Joanna Lumley, Alison Steadman, Dolly Parton and Ken Livingstone all turn 70 this year - and along with 60-somethings in Yorkshire, are relishing their impending seventies.

A fifth of Yorkshire sexagenarians, those in their 60s, think old age starts at 85 or above - with 44 per cent planning to learn or do something new in their seventh decade, including travelling to new countries, getting fit, volunteering or learning a practical skill.

Alison Steadman is 70 in August. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Alison Steadman is 70 in August. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

According to research from the Royal Voluntary Service, people in their later years are relishing their 70s, and busting stereotypes about putting their feet up and slowing down.

Almost half, 49 per cent, say Helen Mirren is the most inspirational celebrity to have already hit then big 7-0.

The charity says stars turning 70 such as Lumley and Steadman, and Mirren and Katie Adie, who both turned 70 last year, are making people “reassess their view” of old age, and are launching a new one-day festival, GrandFest 2016, to celebrate older people and the skills they possess.

Chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service, David McCullough, said: “Most of the people on our list are still working and are at the top of their profession. They are proof that later life is to be celebrated and that’s why we wanted to launch GrandFest, to give people an opportunity to learn from the country’s seasoned professionals, the Original Makers who have perfected their skills over a lifetime.”

Actress Ms Steadman, who is 70 is August, said: “When I was 17 I remember thinking 35 was very old. How we change, grow and learn. Life is for living and to be 70 now seems exciting to me. I’ve grown in confidence over the years and learned that every day is precious. Every day brings something new and challenging.”

Despite the negative image of ageing often portrayed, research by the charity identified how many people from Yorkshire in their 60s were looking forward to hitting 70.

Almost a third (30 per cent) said they were intending to embrace their impending 70s, with 17 per cent saying they will feel proud to be in their 70s.

One such example is Margaret Lee. The 76-year-old from Leeds has never been busier since she hit her 70s.

She volunteers at a club for older people in Roundhay and keeps incredibly active, enjoying gardening and keeping fit, and regularly drive to Scotland to visit her daughter.

Mrs Lee said: “I’m sure my grandchildren would think I’m very old but I don’t see myself that way - and I don’t believe that many of those who attend the club would either. They all seem to think they are still 24, and it’s only when they look in the mirror they realise they are not.

“I don’t think you’re old until you’re in your eighties - and that’s only four years away for me, so I probably still won’t feel old then!”

An event in London on June 5 will celebrate everything people in their 70s have to offer, enabling the older generation to share craft skills such as knitting, crochet, wood turning and bread making through a series of master classes. Taking over museums, shops, cafes and bars in and around East London, each masterclass will be led by a talented Original GrandMaker, aged 70 or over.

The Royal Voluntary Service uses many of the skills and experience held by the volunteers in much of the support services they run across Yorkshire.

As part of The Yorkshire Post’s Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign, we are encouraging our readers to donate a combine 2,016 hours of volunteering to RVS services. Visit www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/loneliness for details.

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