Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world. I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist.
Focussing mainly on Western Australia and Australia, I am seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Monday 7 March 2016

Celebrating International Women's Day and Aging with Attitude

Tuesday 8 March is International Women’s Day where we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, discuss women’s issues and strive to help women in need all across the world
Love, justice, strength, celebration, equality, dignity, self respect and hope for all.

 I will be going to an International Women’s Day morning tea, with guest speakers, being put on by the South West Women’s Health and Information Centre in Bunbury

My memory was recently taken back to a meeting I had in July 2004 with an inspiring group of Over 50s women, the Granny Grommets in Albany on Western Australia’s south coast. They might have greying hair, but their sparkling eyes were full of life and I felt immediately drawn in by their attitude to life and their infectious laughter.  By doing something different they are throwing out perceptions of aging and were certainly living up to their motto, “Ageing with Attitude”.

What brought about that memory was hearing keen surfer and ocean lover, Albany’s Tony Harrison, talk on the radio following being named in the Western Australian Premier’s Active Awards as part of the Australia Day celebrations. 

67 year old, Tony, who has coached surfing since the 1970’s, is passionate about protecting our oceans and environment and is the mentor and coach for the Granny Grommets who meet at Middleton Beach in Albany every Friday all year round. 

The Granny Grommets started in 1999, when a number of seniors from Albany’s Over 50’s Recreation Association approached Womensport West about learning to surf.  A six week body-boarding course was developed by Kim Buttfield and Due South Surfing Academy's Tony Harrison.  

The course covers coastal safety and basic ocean awareness, including knowledge of rips and swells, weather patterns, parts of the board and the skills of body boarding. Tony also passes on a love of and looking after the environment. 

The minimum starting age is 50, with the average around 60 and their oldest member is 82. 

The Granny Grommets at Middleton Beach in July 2004
Many of the women retired to Albany from other regional towns or farming backgrounds, so the ocean is quite a novelty to them. They are looking for things to do, and are prepared to try something just a little bit different.  Some of them, particularly from rural backgrounds, have never learnt to swim or aren’t confident swimmers, so the concept of even going into the ocean is quite challenging for them, and something they are determined to conquer. 

The ladies know their limitations and everyone works at their own level, where they feel comfortable.  Some of the younger or stronger ladies will catch the bigger waves, while those who don’t feel so confident stay in close and catch the white wash on their body boards.  

Linda, a non-swimmer, told me that doing the course, being in the group, the wet suit and board help her feel confident.  “I feel invincible out there.  It’s terrific, I really love it”.  

 Tony enjoys coaching the ladies. “I get a kick out of watching them catching waves and enjoying themselves.  Their eyes light up and there’s a big smile on their faces because they’ve caught a wave, it’s the exhilaration.  It makes you feel alive, being out there in the salt water, it gets the heart going and keeps you fit.”  Tony’s attitude is, “If you keep surfing you think younger and feel younger”.

Dolly agrees about the important health benefits. “It makes you feel good and gives you a good start to the day.  It’s great fun. The more time you spend on your feet and the more active you are, the better you feel.  It makes you feel you are able to do more.  You can go at our own pace, you don’t have to over do it.  You just do what you feel you’re confident in doing, and everybody accepts that.”

Brenda, a newcomer to the group when I visited, said she joined because, “The outrageousness of a group of wild, wonderful women out there denying the mythology that it’s not possible to do these sorts of things attracted me.  I’ve spent a life time in my head in my profession, so the sheer joy of movement in my body and being taken along by a force other than myself and just surrendering to it is a wonderful feeling.”

One of the originals, seventy-four year old Nan agreed. “The wonderful feeling of flying across the waves is everything.  It gives you a wonderful feeling of being alive.” 

Jann encourages others to join. “If you want to have a go, get on with it, come and enjoy it with us. You’re out of your comfort zone, and I think as you get older that’s most important, to have to make an effort and learn something new.  It’s great being part of a community that has a caring attitude for each other.” 

Tony laughed, “tell them, give my apologies to the card group, I’m going surfing.”

I was saddened to hear during Tony’s interview that Brenda had passed away last year and that the group had been shattered by her death. 

I have vivid memories of Brenda (that's her on the far right in the image above and in the bathers top in the centre of the group image above) and I have always remembered her words,  
“I feel if I don’t come down, I would miss the wave.  How awful to be missing the wave at 60.  I’m wanting to catch every wave I can”.

I think there is a message in Brenda's words for all of us. Whether it is body-boarding like the Granny Grommets or some other new active pursuit you are interested in trying, then just get out there and have a go. 
The Granny Grommets in July 2004

You can find out about the Granny Grommets by emailing dianne@westnet.com.au
To read more about Tony Harrison and his Australia Day award please click here - ABC.net

To find out about the South West Women's Health Centre please click here - South West Women's Health and Information Centre

To find out more about International Women's Day  and how you can help or be involved please click here -   International Womens' Day

My story about the Granny Grommets was published in the Summer 2005 edition of Australian Vital magazine. 

I started learning Spanish Flamenco dancing in my 50s.  Have you started a new pursuit since you reached your 50s? Perhaps you would like to tell us about it in the comments. 
Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.


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Mosaic Monday


  1. What a fun group! Too bad we have to designate a day to 'celebrate' women - seems we should be doing that everyday! Great post and Happy IWD!

  2. What an awesome group - I so agree with getting out there and being Fabulous after 50 in whatever guise suits you best. Loved your photos and the joy on those women's faces.

  3. Marvelous! Love this bunch!
    Thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/03/dominica-caribbean-jewel.html

  4. What a fabulous uplifting story about a group of inspiring women. I love hearing about this sort of thing! I know a wonderful bunch of women here on the Gold Coast that call themselves the Super Chooks and they also meet regularly for a surf swim and also standup board paddling and they are all well over sixty. Happy International Women's Day! :)

  5. What a wonderful group!Thanks for sharing the very interesting story.I wish Granny Grommets loads of adventure and fun! I started hiking in the Himalayas after I turned 60. Last year I had been to the Valley of Flowers(11500ft). Coming May, I am planning to hike to Chandrashila Peak at 13000 feet.

  6. Awesome shots and an inspiring group of women. Happy Int'l Women's Day ♥

  7. What a fantastic story - those women are inspiring!
    Good for you for starting Spanish dancing in your 50's. I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't begun anything new in this decade of my life. Time to think of something!

  8. Amazing shots and a great way to celebrate Women's Day.

  9. Go Grannies. I love body boarding. If I was over there I would join in!

  10. Happy International Women's day! What a great post! It is neat seeing this group pf women so active, living and enjoying life. Wonderful photos. Have a happy day and week ahead!

  11. I feel like I'm aging with attitude, I like that phrase. The pictures remind me of my days in Southern California. - Margy

  12. Love the name. They are an inspiration to us all.

  13. Love those Granny Grommets. What an inspiring group of women they are. Thanks for sharing this lovely story on International Women's Day Jill :-)

  14. Braver than me. I would never get on a boogie board. I had never heard of this "holiday" before!

  15. Brave Granny Grommets! What a wonderful, inspiring story. These are fabulous photos, too. It's hard to capture wave action like this (at least for me!).

  16. Great that these women have found their niche in a sport. I myself am more academically oriented, and instead of my parents wish to marry a doctor, I became one myself:)

  17. Inspirational and amazing. What a great idea! I hope when I'm in my 50s I am getting out there and living life and learning new things as well. Actually you are making my feel pretty boring really.

  18. Well, I came to check in on you and I know that I typed a comment on this a few days ago, but it is not here, that I can find. I had said that all of the beautiful, happy faces of these women is quite contagious. I am so fearful of water and these dear ladies just brave it all. how delightful. Have a wonderful week and I will check in later on any new post. Hugs to you my friend~

  19. You can certainly see your expertise within the work you write.
    The world hopes for more passionate writers
    like you who are not afraid to say how they believe.
    At all times follow your heart.


I hope you have enjoyed your visit to my blog. Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I read and very much appreciate every comment and love hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return.