Blog post by Eddie Brocklesby, Silverfit Founder and Co-CEO.
What an unbelievably fantastic week I had, and what fun! Fitting in hours of Silverfit, but also the outdoor and indoor training on the bike as I prepare for June 15th 2019 Race Across America and four of us Serpentine Golden Girls, average age of 70+ racing across America – relaying, day and night, each riding 750 miles with a cut off time of nine days. Our same four did it eleven years ago, but they rely me at 76yrs of age. We will all be raising funds for Silverfit and profound thanks to Better/GLL who have awarded me their Sports Foundation Award, and continue to support Silverfit across many of our venues.
Having run several charities over the years, I was very privileged to be invited to the centenary celebrations of the National Council for Voluntary Organisation (NCVO) on April 2nd, to be ‘hosted by the Queen’. I had absolutely no expectations that I would actually meet our Queen. We assembled in a large hall within the historic Windsor Castle, the walls resplendent with huge paintings, away from the tourist part of the Castle that I knew. There we were greeted with champagne and the most incredible nibbles. A queue started to form from that room to go through am open archway into another large hall. Only as I joined the queue and moved up slowly to get within a few feet of the door did I realise the Queen was just the other side, individually greeting each guest. I went though, her Equerry announced ‘Dr Brocklesby, Silverfit’. `How lovely` she said as she shook my hand, and I curtseyed before her.
Wow, how impressive is our Queen, now nearly 93 years old. Later she circulated, greeting me and a few others in a group. Then, shortly after, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, Princess Anne too was circulating. She is clearly very fit and healthy and looking so many years younger than her 68 years. She was delightful, listened to me telling her about Silverfit, and when I commented on her own fitness she told me it was down to her riding and walking. She is such a hard working member of the Royal family and it was such a privilege to meet her. She is Patron of 200 charities. I guess we can but ask on behalf of Silverfit! The champagne continued to flow and it was great to meet up with so many other founders of charities. One suggested we must to integrate boxing into our Silverfit sessions. Even the heads of some of the funding organisations were keen to talk further! My eternal thanks to NCVO for such a privileged opportunity to meet The Queen within such fabulous surroundings. The champagne was excellent too!
Then, only three days later came the ‘big day’, my investiture on behalf of Silverfit for the British Empire Medal, the BEM for `Services to the Health and Wellbeing of Older People’. Was I really at my second Royal Palace in a week – the Tower of London, on April 5th? What fun that was too! Hats could be worn and I thought I had made a great choice, a black feathered number that sat comfortably on my curly mop. We could all take three guests, and I was so so appreciative that my three kids joined me – a proud Mum indeed, as it was also my daughter’s birthday. We accessed the Tower from one of the riverside entrances – reminding me of David Walliam’s `Gangster Granny` story,
Up the stairs and a little hook was pinned on the jackets of the 42 recipients, and once all seated, we were briefed. One at a time, after our names were called out, we were going to be guided to mount a platform to be greeted by Sir Kenneth Olisa the First Lieutenant of London, listen to the individual citations being read out, and then Sir Ken would place the medal on that little hook. The ceremony started. It was so humbling to hear other citations; the heroes of those terrorist attacks in London, other acts of bravery, selfless services to the community over lifetimes.
Then before a hushed crowd, it was my turn. But as I mounted the platform I could feel the hat slipping and, as Sir Ken shook my hand, it fell to the ground. Amidst laughter throughout what had been a sombre room, he replaced it before the citation was read out, telling the audience, to my surprise, not only about my work for Silverfit promoting `healthier ageing`, but also about my duathlon and Ironman achievement as a 70++ year old. The audience clearly enjoyed the fun of my citation, and, memorably, the less than stable hat!
Later, after a great boat trip down the Thames it was family time to see Drake at O2, or O3 as it became for the night. What energy that Canadian rapper has, what fantastic settings and what enthusiasm from a capacity crowd. Perhaps it was as well as I look on-line now at his lyrics, that my imperfect hearing didn’t pick up all the expletives!
Back home for two days I had to get back to hard bike training, including on Sunday a ride to Windsor Castle and The Great Park. En route home I remembered that an interview I had done with The Observer might be published. But I was astounded to see the huge photo, that the Daily Mail had used previously, `AGE IS NO BARRIER’ heading up an article about other ‘oldies’ also having fun.
And finally, just a week further on, taking my medal to two Silverfit sessions, I was able to thank everyone at Burgess Park for the opportunity to be awarded the BEM, and then onto the Castle Centre and Silver Cheerleading. There it was great to meet the GetLiving crew, plus their photographer preparing for the big event on April 27th at the new Elephant Park. All are welcome, with the Silver Cheerleaders led by Jenny of the London Cheerleaders doing their demo at a time to be confirmed, possibly 11.00am. The event offers a great programme – all are welcome. See you all there?