'I don't feel my age' Parascending, skiing and badminton aren't the sort of activities you'd pick out for a pensioner, but Eddie Duncan tells Kirstie McCrum why his positive mental attitude means he's ready for anything.
THERE can't be many 65-year-olds who have been parascending but then, Eddie Duncan isn't just any 65-year-old.
With an activity list that includes skiing, golf, dance classes and badminton, he's been revealed as one of South Wales' most active grandads as part of Best Western's Year of Get Up and Go campaign.
The campaign reveals that grandparents are the most active and adventurous people in the UK - and he's a shining example to those of us who find it hard to motivate ourselves to get active.
For Eddie, who lives in Rhiwbina, Cardiff, retiring from his job as a maths lecturer five years ago meant that he had much more time to devote to his hobbies, and to discover new ones - including parascending where he is strapped into a parachute and pulled into the air by a moving vehicle.
"I went parascending in Chamonix in France. I was away with my daughter and we decided that we wanted to have a go, so we did. And I absolutely loved it.
"I would definitely do it again. If I was younger I would take it up as a hobby. It was so exhilarating, but really calming at the same time."
So buoyed was Eddie by his experience in Chamonix that he would love to take part in a skydive.
"I'd be there with my parachute - as long as there was somebody behind me holding on to me," he laughs.
But even with his feet firmly on the ground the father of two is determined to remain active.
"Golf is essentially the mainstay of my retirement," he says. "I took it up when I moved to Saudi Arabia for work in 1985 and I play twice a week now."
Although the gentle pace of an 18-hole course may not seem too extreme, Eddie swaps his golf shoes for skis and hits the slopes with his daughter every year.
"I took it up when I was about 45. I got into skiing because when I came back from Saudi Arabia, I had a 12-year-old daughter, Stephanie, and I wanted to get to know her. So I took her skiing with me and she still goes snowboarding now when I'm skiing.
"I went out to Bulgaria as a ski rep in February for two weeks, but my knees were beginning to tell me not to do so much. I did three days and I just had to stop for a day or two," he explains.
Closer to home, as well as regular golf games, Eddie, who has two grandchildren who live with his daughter Fiona in The Hague, fits in badminton a few times a week and goes to modern jive classes.
"I used to play league badminton.
I gave it up five years ago, but I've gone back to it now, more recreational, two days a week," he says.
Eddie takes part in jive classes at Planet Leroc in Cardiff, which he says isn't the most stretching workout, but he enjoys it.
"I had been ballroom dancing, but it was too formal. With modern jive you can dance to virtually any kind of music. There's a guy in my class who is in his 80s still dancing," he says.
The seeds for an active retirement were planted many years ago, when Eddie played rugby for Llanishen and then he and his two brothers took up surfing.
"I started surfing when I was about 20 and did it for 20 years. My brothers and I were into it in the very early days. We made our surfboards to begin with out of fibreglass foam, but they weren't very successful. We couldn't afford wetsuits so we used to make them ourselves," he recalls.
Giving up surfing for health reasons at the age of 40, Eddie says that it has always been important to him to stay active. "I am the most active person I know, and I'm the happiest person I know. I'm really content - I've got a really nice family and they mean a lot to me.
"I had a bout of prostate cancer three years ago and the treatment was exhausting. The radiotherapy lasted six months or thereabouts. It took me a while to recover, and the legacy remains for some time afterwards, when you don't have the energy that you used to have, but I think I'm at the end of the road now."
As well as physical exercise, Eddie says he likes to stay mentally on the go, with bridge, sudoku and crosswords being among his pastimes.
He says it's flattering to be praised for being active, but even he acknowledges that he's not Superman.
"I think people are surprised by how active I am and how many things I do, but I'm not because I don't feel my age. Although, I am slowing up, I can assure you," he laughs.
* Best Western's website www.bestwestern.co.uk/yoguag is helping inspire the nation to become more active as part of its Year of Get Up and Go campaign.
* At 66 Eddie is one of the most active grandads in South Wales. Having already parasailed off a mountain peak in the Alps. His next challenge is to * Eddie in action on the ski slopes
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|Publication:||South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Apr 18, 2012|
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