'People tell me I don't look 60 ... too many women let themselves go'
Handing over her prescription with the box ticked to show she is entitled to free medication for being over 60, Yvonne Fenney can’t help feeling a frisson of delight at the look of disbelief on the pharmacist’s face.
“People’s reaction when they learn my age is a surprise.” says Yvonne, 60.
“You get a few concessions once you turn 60, such as free prescriptions. I have not actually been asked to prove I am 60 yet but I have had many reactions of surprise to the fact that I am 60.”
Yvonne, who lives near the marina in Ashton-on-Ribble, Preston, admits that before she turned 60, she did sometimes knock off years from her age as she didn’t like the fact she was approaching 60.
“But now I actually am 60, I am not afraid of telling people my true age as so many people tell me I don’t look 60 that I find it a compliment.”
Yvonne, who works as a lead generator making appointments for different companies, says she has always kept herself young, fit and slim and she remembers from around the age of 50 that people assumed she was 10 years younger than she was.
She firmly believes her youthful looks are down to a combination of eating well, taking regular exercise including yoga and having a young attitude to life.
“I have always been interested in keeping fit and healthy and taking good care of myself, because I think if you don’t, no one else will.” says Yvonne.
“I also have a younger outlook on life and am as at ease with younger people as I am with people of the same age as me.
“I am a big believer in exercise. The more you do, the more your body will let you do. I have lots of get up and go – but I don’t overdo it.
“I also think it is about what you put in your body to give you energy.
“But I have always been keen not to deprive myself of anything and am a big believer in a little bit of everything including chocolate, cake and the occasional glass of wine.
“However, usually I like to eat a mainly Mediterranean diet with lots of fruit, vegetables or nuts and I don’t eat between meals.
“One of my big tips is drinking a glass of water and lemon juice every day 30 minutes before having my breakfast.
“I have been been doing this since my 20s. It detoxifies your system and cleans it of impurities.
“Every day, upon waking I jump out of bed and stretch as high as possible.
“Then I sip a mug of warm water with lemon juice while I do my facial exercises for around five minutes. I then prepare my face for the day by applying Factor 15 to 20 sunscreen during the winter and Factor 25 to 30 in the summer.
“In the summer, I will always wear a hat and sunglasses as well as SPF to shield my skin from the sun, which can be very harmful.
“I then use a serum and moisturiser. I have never used expensive creams all through my life.
“Each day, I eat a breakfast of whole wheat cereal or porridge oats with fruit, nuts and seeds and I finish off with green tea.”
Yvonne says another one of her secrets to looking and keeping young is yoga which she has been doing for the last 35 years. She does an hour of power walking every day and an hour of yoga twice a week.
Yvonne says: “Yoga is great as it keeps you flexible and fit.
“I also like to take part in belly dancing and salsa dancing.”
At the age of 21, Yvonne won the Miss Boots the Chemist competition. She worked at Boots in Blackpool for five years before emigrating to South Africa, where she lived for the next 20 years.
Yvonne, who is married to Stephen, 61, a renewable waste auditor and has a son Jordan, 23, who is training to be an accountant, explains: “I lived and got married in Johannesburg and then I moved to Cape Town where my son Jordan was born when I was 36.
“Living in South Africa gave me a lot of confidence in life.
“We were living with people from different nationalities and we did not have any family around us so I had to make friends with people I had not grown up with.
“That gives you a lot of confidence on the inside which shows on the outside.”
Yvonne says she feels a lot of women “let themselves go” once they get to a certain age but says she has always taken pride in the way she looks and dresses.
And she says making an effort to look smart and taking care with hair and make-up helps her stay youthful.
Yvonne says: “A lot of women tend to let themselves go as they grow older and cut their hair short, remain grey and wear loose clothing.
“I think the problem is a lot of women don’t know how to dress.
“From a young age, I have always been interested in clothes.
“You don’t have to buy expensive clothes to look good, but try to buy classic pieces that will stand the test of time.
“I have clothes that I have had many years and they never date.
“Don’t be afraid of trying new clothes and try to stay away from wearing too much black, navy blue or brown which can be draining on older skin.
“My favourite colours are red, cobalt blue and emerald green.”
Yvonne confesses to having three wardrobes at home all containing different coloured clothes. She explains: “I have one wardrobe that contains blacks and whites, another that has reds, blues and greens and a third which features browns, beiges and creams.”
Laughing, Yvonne adds: “My husband only has a small wardrobe so I can have space for all my clothes!
“As we get older, it is a must to look smart and well put together to show the world that we look after ourselves. I attend a lot of network business meetings so it is important to look the part then the people around you will take you seriously. You will also feel a lot happier in yourself.”
Yvonne feels her hair is her crowning glory and has had her hair very long since the age of about 16.
She says: “My hair is about waist length and people always comment on how lovely it is and my husband likes me having it long.
“I think women should not be afraid to grow their hair long, despite what some people say about how once you reach a certain age you should have it cut shorter.
“As long as it is in good condition and you eat correctly and treat your hair like silk, it will become your crowning glory.
“I have golden highlights woven through my hair which complements my complexion.
“Every morning and night, I also make sure I massage my scalp for a few minutes all over to encourage growth and shine.”
When it comes to make-up, if Yvonne is staying at home, she tends to let her skin breathe and just wears moisturiser and some lipstick.
If she is going to a meeting, she will wear foundation, eye shadow, mascara, blusher and lipstick. In the summer months, she likes to replace her foundation with a bronzing powder to give her a glow.
Yvonne says: “It is not just about how you look but about looking after yourself physically and having a sensible and healthy weight.
“I have never dieted and my weight has always been very stable. I have never been any more than a size 10.
“My diet consists of lots of fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts, whole wheat bread, rice, pasta, avocados and fish with the occasional meat or chicken dish.
“I never eat ready meals.
“I sprinkle a teaspoon of turmeric on my meals as this is a powerful spice and dramatically increases the antioxidant capacity of the body.
“I eat three meals a day and never eat between meals. I eat well so I am never hungry from one meal to the other. I put my knife and fork down after each mouthful and I chew slowly.
“I also drink lots of water throughout the day.
“I like to make my own cakes without sugar or with a very small amount of sugar. I try to eat a small piece of dark chocolate every day as it contains lots of antioxidants.”
Yvonne exercises regularly and at the age of 60, she is proud to say she can still perform a shoulder stand and the crab and can almost do the splits.
She says: “I am planning to join a street dance group as I love dancing and music and in the summer, I get on my bike and cycle up to 11 miles on sunny days.”
Yvonne loves being independent and meeting new people and enjoys travelling and visiting new places. Her favourite places to visit include France, Barcelona, Portugal, Rome, Venice, Budapest, Marrakesh and Vienna.
Yvonne says she finds it hugely flattering when people think she is younger than she is and says times are changing and 60 is no longer seen as old.
She says: “My son’s girlfriend thought I looked 50 and was very surprised when she found out I was 60.
“I think having a younger outlook helps make me seem younger than my years.
“People often think of 60-year-olds as being on the scrap heap but times are changing.
“Sixty is like the new 50 and people are working for longer.
“I think some people, once they retire, they become old very quickly. People sometimes don’t have enough to occupy themselves.
“I keep my mind active and alert and want to keep working for as long as I can.
“Hopefully, I can keep feeling and looking young for as long as possible.”