Open Age keeps Brenda busy

Against the odds

Brenda defied her doctors

When Parsley Box Personality Brenda Meadows found the London based club called Open Age when she was widowed 12 years ago, she said it was ‘like a cork popping out of a bottle’.

The 89 year old cared for her husband for six years and needed to find an interest to keep her busy – something she did with great success.

Now looking forward to celebrating her 90th birthday this year, Brenda is fit and active and takes no medication, which she claims isn’t bad considering doctors thought she wouldn’t pull through pleurisy as child, at least three times.

I seem to have built up my own immunity. I cook a meal for myself most days and eat lots of vegetables and salads. I don’t eat out because of a previous kidney problem requiring a bland diet but might grab the occasional shop sandwich to keep myself going.

Brenda, about her healthy diet

Sickly child

She added it is quite amazing that she was considered a sickly child and now is healthier than so many people much younger than her.

‘I get aching feet and legs when I’ve been doing too much, but I expect that.’

Open Age has hundreds of activities for older people

Open Age has about 100 activities. It was a wonderful find as there are many things to do most days. I run a quiz group, help out at a Monday film group, I do a bit of church work and often get involved with events.

Brenda keeps busy most days with Open Age

Near to home

Until two years ago she ran Scout groups, deciding to give up as she felt she couldn’t quite give it the same energy she had for the last sixty years.

‘It was a wonderful job. I still see people around who recognise me from when they were in one of my groups.

Brenda has never moved away from her area, living only a mile away from where she was born and still attending the same church in Paddington she went to when she was eight years old.

‘I started there at Sunday School after I badly hurt my feet jumping off a snooker table. I wasn’t allowed to go to school because I became ill and my mother wanted me to meet other children. I haven’t looked back since.’

Supporting mental health

Brenda is also a trained counsellor for people with mental health issues and has six clients, who she speaks with on a regular basis.

‘It’s something I feel very strongly about.  There isn’t enough help and that is a shame. It’s about making every contact count and offering acceptance. ’

Having had a number of miscarriages and a premature baby that didn’t survive, she says she has much empathy with many of those she counsels.

‘I don’t judge anyone and we never always know everyone’s story,’ Brenda said.

Woman of the Year

Not content with being busy out of the house, she also writes short stories and verses and this year won an award in recognition of International Women’s Day – she was nominated for her support of a local synagogue.

‘It was an honour and I was very pleased to receive the award.’

Brenda was very pleased to receive her recognition for her voluntary work.

As for her forthcoming birthday celebrations, Brenda has a number of things planned.

‘I’ve lots of friends and a few have been talking about organizing events. I shall look forward to the parties.  I am determined to get to 90 – that will show all those who said I wouldn’t make it through the night all those years ago! Look at me now.’

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