Water great way to mark Anna’s 82nd birthday

Anna Illingworth with Thistle Divers Diving Officer, Rob Sewell
Anna Illingworth with Thistle Divers Diving Officer, Rob Sewell

An inspirational octogenerian who learned to scuba dive after she retired is to celebrate her 82nd birthday with an Indonesian adventure.

Grandmother Anna Illingworth, from Lenzie, refuses to let age or 2011 hip operation get in the way of her scuba diving after starting as a sprightly 68-year-old.

She is among 33 active members of BSAC’S growing Thistle Divers club which trains weekly in in Kilsyth.

Anna has travelled all over the world thanks to her love of the sport, including trips to the Maldives, Kenya, Cyprus, Lanzarote, The Bahamas, Egypt, Cape Verde, The Seychelles, Bali, and Gozo.

Anna will turn 82 this month and is jetting off with her son to Indonesia for her latest adventure.

She said: “I have had some incredible experiences diving around the world.

“I think my most memorable was in The Maldives. I went diving with manta rays; we weren’t very deep and had around 20 manta rays feeding around us.

“Then I looked up and saw two huge whale sharks above us at the surface. I think that had to be my most memorable and unforgettable experience. It was absolutely amazing.”

Anna says she joined Thistle Divers after getting bored with swimming lengths Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre following the death of her husband.

She explained: “I’d heard about the scuba club based there and thought I’d give it a try. I began with snorkelling and worked my way up to becoming a snorkel instructor.

“I taught snorkelling for a while to young people and then thought I’d take the plunge and learn to dive.

“I love to see natural history, the fish and corals. I’m not so keen on wreck diving or going to any great depth, there is no need as I can see all I want to at quite shallow depths.”

Thistle Divers’ Diving Officer, Rob Sewell, said: “She really is a remarkable lady and is a very popular club member. She’s been a member far longer than most and used to be our snorkelling instructor. She our oldest club member and you simply couldn’t meet a nicer nor more sincere person.

“Everyone respects her and her ability as a diver.”

To find out more about Thistle Divers visit their website at www.thistledivers.co.uk.