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This fencer is still winning at 89

"I was 63 when I started, at a time of life when a lot of people put their feet up, but I launched myself into it."

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Veteran fencer Joy Fleetham, aged 89. (James Hardisty / YP via SWNS)

By Alexandra Wood via SWNS

A woman believed to be Britain's oldest active fencer has told how she's still beating teenage opponents at 89 years old.

Joy Fleetham took up fencing at 63 and is still doing the sport she loves a quarter of a century later.

Believed to be the country’s oldest active fencer, Joy, the president of the Bridlington Blades club, describes herself as "not a sporty person."

However, she still dons her breeches, body protector, jacket and mask for a session every Friday where she has taken on opponents far younger in years.

She recalls about two years ago with a 17-year-old Japanese teenager – which she won.

Veteran fencer Joy Fleetham, aged 89. (James Hardisty / YP via SWNS)
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“He was astounded and so was I,” she says.

Joy says fencing has given her immense pleasure and has opened doors she would never have imagined.

She has won eight medals through her swordsmanship and alongside regular fencing partner club secretary Val Hoodless, who has fought for 25 years, she has raised thousands of pounds for the club.

She has received “lovely” replies to her letters from the late Queen Elizabeth II - who was the Royal Patron of British Fencing - and was invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party in 2010.

"It's a hobby that's taken over my life," she says. “I went along and the gentleman who took me said ‘I think you’ll be a natural.'

"I went again the week after that and I got hooked.

Veteran fencer Joy Fleetham, aged 89. (James Hardisty / YP via SWNS)

"It's the art of it. I thought I will never be able to do it but with practice and patience and good coaches, I grew to love it. It builds character and respect for others."

At one time she says the sport was "only for the idle rich but now it's open to everybody."

"We don't charge a lot to encourage young people and the disabled. We are a very friendly club and never turn anyone away."

She likes the precision of the movements and also its mental aspect, learning to know opponents' weaknesses.

The former Marks & Spencer retail supervisor added: "Fortunately my reflexes are still very quick.

"I was 63 when I started, at a time of life when a lot of people put their feet up, but I launched myself into it.

"When I go into town people stop me and say: 'Hello fencing lady - are you still doing it? I say: 'I'm not giving in' and they tell me I'm an inspiration to the older generation."

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