Congratulations to our winner, Edwina
5 December 2019 | London and South East England
The impressive “iron gran” is behind a huge keep fit movement for the over-fifties.
It’s no wonder they call her Iron Gran. At the age of 76, Edwina Brocklesby is the UK’s oldest female Ironman triathlete and the driving force behind an emerging wave of silver-haired athletes.
Just as incredible is the fact that Edwina, or “Eddie” as she’s known, only took up running in her fifties. With her boundless energy, trademark wild locks and infectious grin, she inspires everyone she meets. It’s hardly surprising then, that she is 2019’s Pride of Sport TSB Community Partner award winner.
The impressive super-gran launched her charity Silverfit in 2013 to promote sport for older people. It began with running events in London’s parks and has since swelled to 2,000 members at 17 venues across nine boroughs. “We go into areas of economic deprivation, where we know we can make a difference,” Eddie explains. “Last year we had 23,000 attendances and 60% of our members tell us they now exercise for at least 90 minutes each week.”
Silverfit offers a range of activities to the over-45s including Nordic walking, tai chi, pilates and cheerleading. To make sure no one is excluded due to cost, membership is just £12 per year and sessions no more than £3. As Eddie says: “Our core message is that it’s never too late to start exercising.”
Len Bass, 76, has been coming along to Silverfit for two years. He wanted to get fit after surviving stomach cancer that left him barely able to walk. Within weeks of joining he had begun to see a difference. “I was bent over when I started, but by the end of the first month I could run up the hill. Thanks to Silverfit, today I am really fit, I am off all medication and have even reversed my type 2 diabetes.”
Marjorie Barnes, 62, from Dulwich had a similar experience. “I had terrible back problems, scoliosis and was walking with a stick when a friend recommended Silverfit.
“I joined the Nordic walking class and within a year I’d alleviated my back problems and even entered the London half marathon. Then I had back surgery, recovered and entered my second half marathon and cut 30 minutes off my first time. I’ve got my freedom back and it’s all down to the wonderful Eddie. She’s amazing and so inspirational.”
Eddie’s personal drive to get fit was spurred on by her husband’s sudden death in his fifties. “Being active and running with my friends helped me dramatically after I lost my husband at such a relatively young age. When I started swimming, at 56, I couldn’t do crawl at all and swam breaststroke with my head above water like most women of my age. When I could swim properly, I could start doing triathlons, and from there I entered the Ironman competitions.”
Eddie has now undertaken 10 Ironman challenges – which is made up of a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike ride and then a marathon – and finished six of them.
“I am known as Iron Gran, although my fantastic children and grandchildren think a more apt name would be Mad Gran. But my advice would be to make the best of your life – and have fun.”