Heather’s story – Positive ageing (3 minute video)

2019 NSW Senior Australian of the Year Heather Lee OAM shares how she is living life to the fullest at 96 years old.


My name is Heather Lee, and I'm 96 years of age. I tell everybody I'm 96. I don't mind telling people that. The thing about ageing, it is an achievement for a start. And I think it's something to be proud of you know, which I am, I am proud of it. I've lived a good life and I'm 96 years of age, no complaints. When my husband died, he said, "Now is the time to show your mettle." Those words, they still make my hair stand on end when I think about it. I think he knew that I was not very self-assertive, and I was going to be on my own. In other words, you've got to stand on your own two feet now, girl, you know, it's time to sort of shape up. I had this compulsion to walk, and I didn't walk to smell the roses, I was walking. And the faster I walked, the better I felt. So it was grief therapy, really. In 2011, I was 84, I was talking to my physiotherapist and he said, "Why don't you go to the Masters Games? They're being held in Adelaide this October." After I'd finished the 10 kilometre event there was a local magazine here, and they rang me up and they said, "How did you go at the games?" And I said, "Oh, I think I got four gold medals." And he said, "Wow, what were your times?" And then I told him and he said, "Well, you've broken world records." So I thought, well, that's what I want to do. I really wanted to be the last man standing, and I also wanted to be the best I possibly can as an athlete for the rest of my life. And she had many tears, become philosophical in many ways, and learn to grow older with stayers who stayed. When I became New South Wales Senior of the Year, I had to write a message to speak to people. And I said to my trainer friend, "Well, I don't know what I'm going to say." I really didn't know what I was going to say. And funnily and utterly she said to me, "Well, you are the message," and I said, "That's it." I got up and I stood there and I said, "I am the message." We're all getting older and no one's going to escape that fact. I think the secret is to keep going, keep your mind active, find things you can do. Diet and exercise, even if you can do little sort of exercises at home and things like that to keep moving, because I think if you can get your heart rate up just a fraction as it's going to help you and keep up with younger people and older people at the same time, and we can pass on the sort of recipes and different things of years ago and just pass on our knowledge to younger people all the time. I don't really want to inspire people. I want people to aspire themselves to do the best they can as they grow older, but you know, because I find that that's what they should really be doing. I like to get up and get going and prove that I still can do it. 

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