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Seniors 'crushing' stereotypes in new documentaries

Picking up a tennis racquet at age nine, Margaret Fisher had no idea the sport, which has taken her around the world, would still be a part of her life almost 80 years later.

Margaret is one of nine seniors featured in a new documentary series, FEARLESS. (Source: PROMEDIA).
Margaret is one of nine seniors featured in a new documentary series, FEARLESS. (Source: PROMEDIA).

Margaret is one of nine seniors over 75 featured in a collection of inspirational short films produced by Feros Care in partnership with Screenworks, released this week.

Growing up in Albury, the 88-year-old Northern Rivers resident remembers sharpening her tennis skills at her local court every weekend.

“I always loved sport,” she says. “It was always encouraged at school, I played basketball as well.”

“For a sixpence we would go down to the local courts in Albury, which I did for many years. It was the same place (former world number one) Margaret Court, then Margaret Smith, practiced when she was younger.”

Combining her two passions of tennis and school teaching saw Margaret travel to London, where she qualified for Wimbledon in 1953.

“I saved up to travel to London to play in local tournaments, including the British Open, and was lucky to have a teaching job lined up when I got there so I could teach one week, then play tennis the next,” she says.

“Through the local tournaments I qualified for Wimbledon in doubles and singles. Even though we didn’t make it past the first round, it was an amazing and magical experience.”

“I also witnessed Queen Mary’s funeral and Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, so it was a very exciting time to be there!”

Her tennis adventures wouldn’t stop there, however. Margaret recently returned from Croatia, where she represented Australia in her eighth World Senior Tennis Championships in the singles, mixed doubles and women’s doubles competitions.

“In 2010 my brother called me and said he was going to the world championships, then in Turkey, and that I should come along and have a go, too. I thought, ‘yes I can do this, why not!’”.

“The numbers this year had almost doubled in my over 85 age group, with players from countries like Ireland and South America, and the standard was really high.” she says. “I learnt a lot from watching others’ playing styles and tactics.”

“It was such a lovely trip - to play for your country is really something special.”

The mother of four, who is currently ranked number one in Australia in the over 85 age group, credits her supportive family and community for being able to play for all these years.

“I head to the courts every day, and on Sundays when no one is there after lunch I take my dog, ‘Coach Leo’ who helps me with my service practice,” she laughs.

“It gets me out of bed and moving every day, which works well for me. I won’t stop moving until I have to.”

Supported by The Bakery Media Production, the documentary series FEARLESS showcases the surprisingly bold lives of the Northern Rivers residents through a suite of films aiming to challenge community attitudes and celebrate ageing.

Screenworks, Feros Care and The Bakery Media also worked very closely with each participating senior to pass on filmmaking skills.

Among the charismatic FEARLESS stars are Berenice Lancaster, 77, who swims across Byron Bay every morning, 80-year-old jazz musician and composer Royden Ainsworth and Wendy Taylor, 79, who shares her fashion secrets with her Instagram followers at @WendysThirdAct.

Screenworks Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ken Crouch is impressed by the commitment shown by the FEARLESS participants.

“One of the most incredible things about this initiative has been the commitment shown by the seniors since the initial application stage,” he says.

“Many of them have genuinely stepped up and learnt new skills to be able to bring their stories to the screen, ably assisted by the team at The Bakery Media Production.”

“This eclectic and appealing collection gives these seniors the chance to have their voices heard and share their escapades with the world.”

Feros CEO Jennene Buckley said that they are proud to release these stories of seniors who are challenging the traditional views on ageing.

“We are thrilled with the personalities and stories that this project has uncovered, and we’d love for these films to surprise, charm and inspire people. Ultimately we’re confident that our nine FEARLESS seniors are going to crush those boring old stereotypes about growing older,” she says.

Learn more about Margaret and her co-stars by watching the FEARLESS documentaries here.

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