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Your Later Life 2019

Q&A with Wayne Sleep

Wayne Sleep OBE (pictured)

Actor, Dancer and Ambassador, Royal Voluntary Service

At 71, Royal Ballet dancer, choreographer, TV star and all-round national treasure, Wayne Sleep OBE, is as full of life as ever. Currently starring as an Ugly Sister in Panto at Cambridge Arts Theatre and supporting a Royal Voluntary Service and Specsavers eye care campaign, Wayne believes staying busy and active is what keeps him healthy and happy.

What are your top tips for keeping active in the later years of your life

I’m a firm believer in staying active as you grow older and having fun in life. Keeping your sense of humour is absolutely crucial. Dancing still brings me so much joy. It’s the perfect way to combine fun and exercise. Dancing to music lifts the self and gets me feeling positive again.

How can people get involved in activities?

There are loads of activities out there for older people to try from dance and yoga to gentle exercises and even walking football. I do worry some older people may be nervous to go along to classes and try something new. It can be a daunting prospect at any age! My advice to them would be to encourage a friend, neighbour or relative to go with them the first few times, until it feels more comfortable. You never know whether you will enjoy something unless you have tried it and it’s never too late to try something new!

I’m a firm believer in staying active as you grow older and having fun in life.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy spending time with the next generation of theatre performers and dancers, via my charity The Wayne Sleep Foundation. I set it up over 20 years ago and do many fundraising activities as well as meeting with young performers to pass on my knowledge and expertise.

How do you like to keep fit and healthy?

Like most other 71-year olds, I’ve had my fair share of health scares over the years. I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer a few years ago, which came as a big shock. But I’m one of the fortunate ones and have recovered. Being faced with health challenges, just makes me more determined to keep going. It is reminder of how quickly your life can change   I live a busy life and am not one for lounging around with my feet up.  I truly believe staying active is the key to good health in old age. I have no intention of stopping or slowing down.

You are an ambassador for Royal Voluntary Service, why is the organisation important to you and how do you support it?

My late mother, Joan Sleep was a stalwart of the WVS as it used to be known and it played a big part in her life. I feel I’m continuing a family tradition by lending my support as ambassador. I fully support its purpose of helping people age better and get the best out of life.

Since becoming an ambassador in 2016, I’ve been incredibly lucky to meet many of its wonderful volunteers – without which none of its services would be possible. I’ve taken part in dance classes, which were great fun and am currently supporting a campaign the charity is running in partnership with Specsavers which enables vulnerable people to access NHS-funded eye tests in their own homes or care homes which helps them to stay independent.

Why is volunteering important?

Volunteering your time is perhaps one of the most precious gifts you can give. Now more than ever, we need people who are willing to step up and support those many, many people in our communities who need help. Volunteers are unsung heroes, but should be sung about so much more. The difference they make to society, whatever their role, is immeasurable. 

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