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Surrey centenarians back new positive ageing campaign

Tuesday, 04 April 2017

TODAY [Tuesday 4 April] residents of a Surrey retirement village give their support to a new campaign that aims to tackle negative perceptions of ageing and help prepare society to live for 100 healthy years.

New UK-wide research commissioned by WE100, a global Merck Consumer Health initiative, has shown that older people in the South East are missing out on new experiences which could benefit them as they age.

And what’s more, a third of those will never get round to the things on their wish list because they feel too old, scared or lonely to give it a go.¹

With 77 percent admitting routine stops them trying new things, WE100 hopes to inspire people of all ages to try something new for the first time, and help maintain mental and physical health into old age.

Residents of Whiteley Village – a retirement community in Walton-on-Thames for pensioners of limited financial means, with an age range of 65 to 106 – were pictured on a special bench donated by WE100 as a space to come together and share stories of first time experiences.

Resident Freda Hodgson aged 103, is lending her support to the initiative as someone who attributes her own youthful demeanour to a hunger for new experiences.

She says: “Last year I learned to email.  I had thought it wasn’t for my generation, but once I gave it a go I realised how easy it would be for me to stay in contact with my 54 family members around the world.  It has also encouraged me to brush up on my typing skills to write my life story; I am now about half way through with plenty more to write!”

Many Whiteley residents have tried new experiences since coming to live at the village thanks to a wide choice of clubs and interest groups.  The most popular include line-dancing, the allotment society, mah-jong, painting and tap dancing.

The bench is the second in a series to be installed across the UK, with the first unveiled last month at London’s Waterloo train station by campaign ambassador Janet Street-Porter.

Further MCH-commissioned research has shown that while 70 percent of Britons believe that age is just a number, nearly 80 percent agree we need to tackle our negative attitude to ageing².

To help combat the lack of confidence some older people may feel, WE100 is asking that everyone help spread the word of the campaign, and encouraging younger people to assist their older friends, relatives and neighbours in their new challenges.

Merck Consumer Health Managing Director Heidi Gresle says: “As some of Whiteley’s residents prove, reaching a centenary is looking more likely than ever.

“It’s sad that anyone should feel positive new experiences are beyond their reach. We believe that as community-minded people we can help alleviate these feelings of isolation and fragility in the elderly, if we work together to support those around us.

“Our employees will be supporting the campaign by volunteering their time to help elderly people in the community enjoy a new experience.”

For more information on the WE100 movement and to find out where the benches will be installed, visit facebook.com/WE100UK.

The following is available on request:

  • Janet Street Porter, 70, has just tried aerial yoga for the first time and will be sharing her experiences on behalf of WE100. Video content, images and comment available.
  • Case studies of older people who attribute their zest for life to trying new things.
  • Interviews with Whiteley Village residents.


- Ends -


¹OnePoll, “Merck Consumer Health Study”, Sample 2,000 (March 2017)

²Omnibus Daily for UK Merck Group, theme “Healthy ageing”, Sample 2,344 (May 2016)

For more information please contact the WE100 Press Office team

T: 020 7053 6000

E: WE100@onlybeattie.com 


For more information on Whiteley Viillage please contact the media team

  1. 07966 447024
  2. media@whiteleyvillage.org.uk


Whiteley Village notes to editors: Run by The Whiteley Homes Trust (Charity Patron: HRH the Prince of Wales), in 2017 Whiteley Village celebrates 100 years of providing housing, care and support for pensioners of limited financial means.  The village is home to around 500 residents ranging in age from 65-106, the majority of whom live independently in almshouses, with additional support available to meet people’s changing needs over time, with extra-care apartments, a residential home and a nursing home.   Most residents rely on housing benefit to pay the cost of renting their accommodation. With demand for accommodation at Whiteley Village at its highest and a wait-list of over one year, the Whiteley Homes Trust is in planning approval to build an additional 62 almshouses, a new care hub providing an extra 30 care suites, and extra care flats.  If approved, the planning will enable an extra 150 pensioners in desperate need of accommodation to live at Whiteley.