ATTENDING tai chi classes has done more than just keep sprightly 80-year-old Ann Childs fit, it also helped her cope with bereavement.

Ann has been a regular at Rossendale Leisure Trust’s Adrenaline Centre in Haslingden for 30 years, initially joining a walking group when she first took retirement.

Her late husband Alan suggested she got a job shelf-stacking at Asda, which she did for 10 years, but she continued with her fitness regime and when she retired again, she added tai chi classes to the mix.

She said: “You get to meet people and I really enjoy it. When I first tried tai chi, there were eight of us and after three weeks there was only me left.”

There are now lots people in the classes.

Ann said: “I am not bad for 80, I am physically fit and I put it down to tai chi. It has also helped me get through things. I lost my mother on my birthday and then when I lost Alan, I came back straight away to Tai Chi and it helped me.”

Instructor Helena Pelling said: “When there has been a bereavement, we don’t mention it unless the person decides they want to talk about it, but they know we are thinking about them.”

Ann said: “These people are great and it is like you get a great big hug. I wouldn’t keep coming all this way if I didn’t enjoy it. I think people see me, and how enthusiastic I am about it, and they decide to have a go.”

She actively promotes the classes and has brought in lots of new members who have stayed.

For her birthday she was presented with flowers, a card and a bottle of bubby.

As part of the self-defence martial art, participants use weapons – swords and sabres. – made of wood.

As Ann is only 4ft 8ins tall, the sword was too large for her so Alan shortened it and he painted her sabre silver so she had her own customised weapons which she said: “I absolutely love.”

Although Ann moved from Clowbridge to Royton two-and-a-half years ago, to be nearer her family, she still comes back to Rossendale for the classes.

For the last 14 year, the sessions at the Adrenaline Centre have been run by Lighthouse Tai Chi instructors Helena and ger husband David.

Helena said: “During Lockdown, Ann continued her membership and she has been a dedicated and loyal friend to us – she has known David since they worked together at Asda when he was just 18-years-old.

“In lockdown we took the tai chi online and Ann joined in. We kept those sessions going after the pandemic and Ann still goes online from Royton when she has the time.

Ann said: “I am a very busy person and I walk two to three times a week with a walking group and we also have a social side and we go bowling or to the cinema.”

She has also dressed up as Father Christmas for the final session before Christmas and as an elf at Hallowe’en and has helped Lighthouse to raise hundreds of pounds for local causes.

Lighthouse run tai chi sessions at the Adrenaline Centre every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with online classes available 24 hours a day.  For more information call 01706 227016.

Cathrine Smyth Media.