OAPs’ trip to ice rink highlights danger of falls

thisisoxfordshire: From left, pushing Gladys Brown, Sylvia Messenger and Ellen Thomas are Sharon Wheeler, Angela Lyndsay and Donna Shirley.  Picture: OX67743 Mark Hemsworth Buy this photo From left, pushing Gladys Brown, Sylvia Messenger and Ellen Thomas are Sharon Wheeler, Angela Lyndsay and Donna Shirley. Picture: OX67743 Mark Hemsworth

VISITORS to Oxford Ice Rink were greeted with the unusual sight this week of elderly people whizzing across the ice in their wheelchairs.

Dozens of pensioners from nine Oxfordshire care homes were on the rink to raise awareness of the danger of falls.

Ellen Thomas, 90, lives at Longlands care home, Blackbird Leys, and said: “I liked being pushed on the ice. I did ice skating a long time ago but I wasn’t very good.”

As well as their icy spin, the residents were treated to a live performance from the Oxford Freestylers dance troupe.

Mrs Thomas, who used to work at a shoe shop, said: “When we were watching the dancers the girl span so fast I couldn’t see what she was doing.”

Fellow Longlands resident and former clerical clerk Sylvia Messenger, 85, added: “We were waving every time we went round the ice. I liked chatting to people. It’s not something you get to do every day.”

Perhaps unexpectedly, Wednesday’s day trip was held to mark National Falls Awareness Week.

The event was organised by Sharon Wheeler, activities and volunteers manager for the Orders of St John Care Trust.

She said: “We wanted to do something completely different and show we can still be safe.”

Age UK organises the week to help cut the risk of falls, and encourage the elderly to remain active.

Falls and fractures in people aged 65 and over account for more than four million hospital bed days each year in England.

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