As Ena Mallett sends out invitations for her 80th birthday next month, she wonders if she may be expected to ‘throw a man or two’ around the floor. “I think my guests might expect it” says Ena. Why? 2 years ago Ena became the only woman in the world to achieve a 7th Dan Black Belt status in ju-jitsu martial arts. Don’t even suggest to Ena that allowances have been made for her age in achieving this – the answer is a very firm ‘no’!
Ena has boundless energy and a very busy life. She teaches martial arts classes to both adults and children, has started a keep fit class for ‘older’ people, works as a lollipop lady, and takes long walks with her dog.
When Ena opted to take a martial arts class as she thought it would be more interesting than flower arranging, she had no idea what opportunities this would open for her.
When news of Ena’s high kicking achievements hit the press her diary began to fill with invitations to open fetes, speak at events and , her highlight so far, carry the Olympic torch. Her biggest challenge in all this ? Parking her car as she drives herself from one busy venue to another.
Ena enjoyed participating in sports when she was younger and feels that staying fit is key to enjoying life. Ena would encourage everyone to join a local fitness class, and has even suggested to some of her less fit friends that they start by seeing if there are any chair based exercise classes.
You only get old if you stop being busy
Ena’s philosophy in life is based on the premiss that you only get old if you stop being busy. For her she is definitely approaching her 80s with excitement and optimism. She does not consider herself to be old, and neither does anyone who knows her.
Ena wants no gifts for her birthday, instead she will ask her guests to donate to two causes which are important to her, her local Macmillan Nurses and Macmillan Cancer Support. Ena has become one of the faces for Macmillan Cancer Support’s ‘Age Old Excuse’ campaign, changing the perception of ageing and fighting for the rights of cancer patients over 70 to receive equal access to cancer treatments in the NHS, so that anyone, at any age can live as fulfilling a life as Ena herself does.
(Ena is featured in the video – scroll through to see her in action!)
Challenging the perceptions of ageing
At the moment Ena’s main priority is ensuring that everything is in order for her birthday guests. Her party will be held at the same venue she used to go to support her late husband when he played sports, so it will bring back many happy memories. As Ena says “goodness knows what my late husband would make of all of this, but I think it would make him smile – and hopefully be proud”
Ena, fab after 50 and young at 80. Changing the perception of ageing. Inspirational!