Judi Dench encourages over 90s to ‘grow old disgracefully’

Judi Dench Image:Andy Newbold

Judi Dench Image:Andy Newbold - Credit: Archant

The James Bond actress, who lives in Outwood, is fronting a national art competition

Actress Dame Judi Dench is encouraging the over 90s to ‘grow old disgracefully’ by entering a national art competition she is fronting for a Surrey charity.

The 85-year-old Ockley resident has been unveiled as the judge of the Grow Old Disgracefully art prize, which is open exclusively to those aged 90 and over.

In what has been a year of unprecedented challenges, particularly for our society’s oldest generation, the competition invites the UK’s circa 600,000 nonagenarians to pick-up a paint brush, pencil or whatever comes to hand and produce a piece of artwork under the theme ‘Happy Times’.

A shortlist of 20 pieces of art will be displayed on the Grow Old Disgracefully website and the winner will receive £200, a year’s subscription to The Artist magazine and a tree planted in their honour in a suitable location of their choice.

Dame Judi Dench, who will be joined on the judging panel by artist Adie Parker and The Artist editor Sally Bulgin, says: “We’ve all wanted to find creative outlets to bring some fun to life in lockdown. Whether like me, it’s been sharing a joke with family on a Zoom call, or taking inspiration from the amazing great outdoors, it’s imperative that our older generations stay active and stimulated, and The Grow Old Disgracefully Art Prize does just that.”

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Grow Old Disgracefully’s founder, Jackie Flaherty, found herself getting increasingly concerned about the provision of stimulating and dynamic activities for older people a decade ago and has since partnered with a number of organisations to find creative and imaginative ways to help.

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For example, together with the National Activity Providers Association, which encourages staff in care homes to provide activities, arts and engagement for their residents, the charity presents an annual Grow Old Disgracefully Award to the elderly care home resident who “lives life with an outrageous or fabulous twist”. Past awards have been given for amazing achievements including antics on bouncy castles, zip-wire riding for charity and belly dancing.

While the art competition might be a slightly more sedate way of keeping active, the premise is the same – to keep our older generation stimulated.

“I founded Godstone Farm 40 years ago and have never forgotten how important it is to embrace the sense of fun and enthusiasm that we are all born with,” 80-year-old Flaherty says. “The nation has been inspired by Captain Tom Moore, and I have always firmly believed that if we can find stimulating ways to feed our innate imagination and desire to keep doing things, then every one of us as we grow older will be able to thrive, rather than simply survive.”

The deadline for entries is August 31. For more information, visit growolddisgracefully.co.uk

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