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Pensioner "Ping Pong" film set to tour care homes
Date of article: 03-Jul-12
Article By: Rachel Baker, News Editor
An inspirational documentary film is released this week following a group of pensioners as they compete in the over 80s category of the World Table Tennis Championships in Inner Mongolia.
The film, “Ping Pong” will tour care homes across the country enabling everybody to watch it.
In this delightful film, director Hugh Hartford follows eight players from five countries, as they prepare to compete in this extraordinary, inspiring sporting event. He told carehome.co.uk: "We're really excited because this is a special film release, we aren't just playing cinemas but also at big free Olympic screens and the film will be travelling to 100s of care homes around the country, reaching audiences that can't go to the cinema.
“We premiered the film at the Brunswick Gardens Village retirement community the night before the Official European Premiere and the response was amazing. The film really seems to get people of all ages itching to play.”
One of the stars of the film, 89 year old Les D’arcy is a British table tennis champion who is looking forward to being an Olympic Torch bearer this summer. He’s a seven times world champion who still weightlifts as part of his training.
He also competes in triathlon, weightlifting, shot-put and is the world record holder in hammer throw. He lives alone in Wakefield and writes and performs inspirational poetry in care homes.
Les is one of the youngsters in the film. Australian legend Dorothy DeLow is 100 and Texan Lisa Modlich is fifteen years her junior, and determined to do what it takes to win her first gold!
Inge from Germany is 89 and uses the sport to help battle her dementia. She moved herself into the dementia ward of a local nursing home 15 years ago and after discovering a table tennis table in the basement, she trained her mind and body, whilst discovering a passion for the sport.
It’s the characters life stories and motivation which is just as inspiring as their desire to compete at table tennis at such a high level.
Ping Pong has captured everyone’s hearts and imaginations with celebrities as diverse as actress, Susan Sarandon and London Mayor, Boris Johnson enthusing about the film.
Sarandon said: "Who could have imagined there were people over 100 years old with more passion and determination than most people 1/5th their age! The film is baffling, inspiring and sweet, and it's wonderful to see how ping-pong has transformed their lives."
The UK release of the film coincides with the Olympics and the EU’s ‘European year for active ageing’ (EY2012).
By 2035, the number of over 60s in the UK is projected to increase by around 50 per cent and the number of people aged 90 and above is projected to more than triple. EY2012 aims to raise awareness about active ageing, especially in the fields of employment, participation in society and independent living of older people and to encourage stakeholders and policymakers to set commitments in these areas and take concrete action.
As well as being shown at care homes across the country, there are special launch events to run alongside Ping Pong. These include indoor and outdoor inter-generational matches in partnership with Age UK and The English Table Tennis Association.
Darius Knight, UK table tennis champion said: "I'm amazed to see people of a certain age still competing and enjoying the sport I love. If I can play table tennis to that standard in 50 years I will be shocked, it is a truly inspiring film."
Commenting on the film, Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention told carehome.co.uk: “Growing older doesn’t mean giving up. Pensioners have retired from work – not from life and that’s something we should remember.
“Older people are often the glue that keeps our communities together – they volunteer, they care for others and they help keep clubs and societies going that would otherwise fold.
“Our challenge is to celebrate those who are able and support those who feel isolated and excluded. Too often we have neglected to do either."
The UK release date for BRITDOC and Banyak Films’ Ping Pong is 6th July and for up to date screening listings please visit: www.pingpongfilm.co.uk/screenings.
Photo: 89 year old Les D’arcy, British table tennis champion