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Thelma celebrates 107 at Alberton

A tour of the Port Adelaide Football Club and a meet-and-greet with players at Alberton Oval was a highlight of Thelma Pope’s 107###sup/sup### birthday celebrations this month.

Thelma, who remembers watching the Port Magpies play through the fence with her three brothers as a six-year-old, was delighted to share the milestone as the club’s oldest member. 

As well as a guernsey signed by all the players, Thelma was presented her own black and white guernsey with her birth year and the number ‘107’ on the back, which she plans to wear to cheer on the Port in the finals this season. 

During the tour, she enjoyed seeing photos of former premiership teams, pointing out some of her favourite players including ‘Fos’ Williams, and received plenty of birthday wishes and kisses from players and coaches, including club legend Russell Ebert. 

The visit followed a Port-themed birthday party shared with family, friends and staff at ACH Group’s Kapara Residential Living, Glenelg South. 

Thelma won the inaugural Wellness & Lifestyle Australia Active Ager of the Year award at the age of 105 and still attends the gym two to three times a week. 

She enjoys getting out and about on bus trips, especially to Port Adelaide, as well as weekly outings with her family to concerts, museums and shopping trips. 

Thelma married in Adelaide and had two children and today has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Her passion was ballroom dancing and she still loves dance – she enjoyed watching ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ at the Adelaide Festival Centre last week. 

“I danced for over 50 years – I think that’s my secret,” she says. “I do keep my mind and body active. When you sit around that’s no fun. I’ve never been bored in my life. I don’t ever think about my age. I always say age is all in the mind, and if I don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!” 

She was thrilled to receive the signed guernsey, which was donated by the Port Adelaide Football club and framed by staff at ACH Group. “To get a thing like that - it really knocked the wind out of my sails,” she says. “I’ve been a Port supporter all my life. They’re just all special to me. They all do their best and I love every one of them.” 

Last year Thelma enjoyed a surprise visit from players Jackson Trengrove and Matt White for her 106th birthday. 

Thelma’s daughter Margaret Neagle says Thelma has travelled widely, including to Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. 

“She’s always positive and she enjoys her walks and her independence,” Margaret says. “She had a hip replacement at 102 – the doctor told us he had never performed surgery on anyone at that age.” Thelma enjoyed her lunch with her grand-daughter Christine, daughter Margaret, grandson Mark, great-grandson Samuel and daughter-in-law Jill.

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