Age no barrier to sport

A GREAT grandmother who plays a 'mean' game of badminton has been celebrating her 90th birthday with her team mates today.Joyce Barker, of Ely Rd, Ipswich, has been playing badminton every week without fail ever since her husband, Leslie Edwards, died 17 years ago.

A GREAT grandmother who plays a 'mean' game of badminton has been celebrating her 90th birthday with her team mates today.

Joyce Barker, of Ely Rd, Ipswich, has been playing badminton every week without fail ever since her husband, Leslie Edwards, died 17 years ago.

She said: “I started coming to the keep fit class and I thought I'd have a go at the badminton, it keeps you healthy.

I enjoy coming here and seeing everyone that come, it makes you forget all the little problems at home and it's nice to get out and enjoy life.”

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Joyce, a keen gardener who grows her own vegetables and has her own green house, enjoys a busy social life as well as regular exercise and says the most important thing to do when you're older is to live life to the full.

She said: “Just live life as normal and make the most of it, keep well and keep on the move, don't stay at home all day, I don't!”

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Just get up and be active and have a normal life, do the house work and the garden and go out and meet friends once or twice a week.”

The Over 50s 'keep fit' and badminton group at Northgate Sports Centre is run by Shirley Fairburn, 62, who teaches squash to children of 5 to 14 and badminton to people of 50 to 90.

She said: “She'd never played any sports in her life before she started here. We get several people like that who join in there 80s. She lost her husband and I don't think she's ever done anything before without him.

She came along with two friends and I encouraged them to play. You'd be amazed at how good a game they play I think it's incredible, Joyce is just amazing.

It's so important to keep fit in later life and many people are frightened of taking up something in there 50s and 60s but some of the ladies here hadn't ever played before and now they can play a really mean game!”

Joyce's favourite opponent is Paddy O'Sullivan, 63, from Kesgrave, the only regular male player in the class.

He said: “She plays a very good game for her age and she likes to win! She's very competitive and she's got good reactions and instinctive play.

I think it's magnificent, don't we all wish we'd be able to play badminton at 90?”

For more information on the 50 plus and badminton classes contact Northgate Sports Centre, Ipswich Borough Council, on: 01473 433611

Joyce has a son called Roy, who is 65, and two Grandsons Mark and Graham.

Joyce's grandson Mark has a daughter called Ellie, who's 4

Her son Roy recently brought her her latest badminton racket to help improve her game.

Joyce never misses a class and has only missed a handful of games in the 16 years she's been playing.

Joyce was 90 on Saturday, April 14, and was taken out to lunch by her very proud family.

ON the other side of Suffolk another pensioner has proved age is no barrier on the golf course as she continues playing 18 holes - just weeks before her 90th birthday.

Pearl Schomer is believed to be one of the oldest female golfers still regularly playing in Britain and was last night hailed as a “shining example” by fellow Suffolk members and the sport's national association.

Casting aside Mark Twain's claims that golf was a “good walk spoilt”, it was actually Mrs Schomer's love of the countryside and walking which attracted her to the game.

A former county tennis player, Mrs Schomer swapped rackets for clubs when her eyesight started to fail and she is now a regular on the course of Newton Green Golf Club, near Sudbury.

She said: “I lost my husband, Peter, six years ago but I found companionship and something to do at Newton Green - it was a lifesaver.

“I only started 14 years ago when my sight was going and I thought it would be much easier to hit a stationery ball than a fast ball in tennis - it was becoming dangerous.”

Ignoring her age, Mrs Schomer, who lives in Long Melford, has been known to play the 18-hole course on three consecutive days and still pulls her trolley along - while others use a power caddy to get around.

Now to commemorate her amazing achievement, fellow women members at Newton will play a special tournament in Mrs Schomer's honour - a day before her 90th birthday.

The pensioner - who usually goes round in about 85 shots after her handicap - will be made lady captain for the April 24 event and her daughter and fellow club member Jenny Leech will compete - while her other daughter, Susan, is expected to fly in especially from Toronto.

Mrs Schomer said: “I don't consider myself to be a great golfer - the lowest my handicap came down to was 34, but I love the game.”

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