Getting older is a fact of life that many dread or try to delay as much as possible.
While some people opt for cosmetic surgery to keep them youthful, others to stay in shape the natural way through diet and exercise
But one 90-year-old from Colindale, has left people wondering what her secret is after a video of her dance moves at a friend’s wedding went viral on social media.
Winnie, who was born in Sri Lanka to a privileged family, says that finding her independence after a broken marriage is what has kept her energised.
As well as her daily ritual of drinking two mugs of ginger tea in the morning, the single-mum can run up the stairs, mows her lawn and finds joy in gardening although she is “terribly scared of spiders”.
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(Image: Shyama Perera)
Winnie said: “Every morning after my coffee I have my breakfast and after that I take two mugs of ginger tea.
“Everyday, it’s like a prayer.”
The Londoner attended the wedding of a friend along with her daughter Shyama Perera, 63, and instantly became a hit among the guests.
A video of the nonagenarian’s energetic dance moves have been watched over 129,000 times on Twitter and the 90-year-old says that she doesn’t know who she got on the dance floor, but puts it down to “independence, plain living and high thinking.”
Winnie said: “The bride’s father is a very handsome man. He asked me to dance and I said, ‘I don’t dance and I can’t dance’. He led me to the floor.”
(Image: Shyama Perera)
Shyama says that her mum has been very “excited” by the responses to the video and keeps “demanding to know if they’re from men”, she joked.
Winnie who is one-out-of-five sisters, three of whom have died, says the secret to her vitality came when her life changed at 30-years-old.
The mum-of-one moved to the UK from Sri Lanka with her then husband, but after two weeks their union was over, and she was left to find a job and raise her daughter in a tenement in Paddington.
Winnie said: “I came because my ex-husband asked me to come. And when I came here the story was different. So I had to stay put. Because the responsibilities and duties were there, I had no time to be scared or anything like that.
“I couldn’t just sit back and expect somebody else to do my work for me. I had to do everything and I was on my feet all the time.”
Shyama remembers their struggles and says that at the time, they were living in “abject poverty”.
(Image: Shyama Perera)
The 63-year-old said: “We were so poor. My father didn’t leave us with anything and in those days you didn’t get family allowance for one child.
“We lived in abject poverty after my father left. We were so bloody grateful when we got our council flat.
“It was such a relief because we were living in tenements because that’s all there was in London in those days. But it didn’t matter, she just kept going.
“But it was very very difficult for us. Going out was literally just walking for hours.”
Winnie and her daughter were burgled seven times and the matriarch was robbed on numerous occasions.
Eventually, the mum-of-one found a job at British Telecommunication as an executive, and began making friends everywhere she went, as she calls herself a “flutterby”.
The 90-year-old said: “I worked at British Telecom as an executive. I had to do everything myself. I had to work in this country.”
Her daughter added: “We had a lot of friends, my mum used to make a lot of friends even in the street.
“My mum was entirely doing it on her own, and she was working for the first time in her life because she had had the privilege of not having to work until then.
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“She had a very charmed childhood and life in Sri Lanka. The interesting thing about her is that she saw it as an opportunity to escape all the confinement of being in Sri Lanka.
“She saw it as an opportunity rather than a terrible thing. She’s amazing. She just turned it around.”
Now that Winnie is retired, she enjoys reading newspapers every day as well as gardening, but she still wishes there were more hours in the day.
She said: “I love reading. I read newspapers and I do a crossword puzzle.
“Sometimes it’s very difficult and I congratulate myself. I have no spare time, I wish the day was 30 hours not 24 hours.”
As for her gardening, Winnie wishes there was someone who could keep her company while she tends to her plants.
The Londoner said: “I love to be with plants and see how they grow.
“If [only] I had someone to chat with in the garden and someone to appreciate what I do and say, ‘you did it so well’.”
But overall, she says that her grandchildren keep her company as they get together as a family every fortnight which keeps her happy.
(Image: Shyama Perera)
Winnie said: “I really love my grandchildren no matter what they do. To me they are something that imagine if I was alone, what would I have done.
“I would have been miserable and old. I’m very happy, very very happy.”
Shyama says relishes her mother’s energy and says that it has created a long line of strong women.
The Willesden native said: “What I relish about my mum is her energy for life.
“She can be as miserable as she can be happy, let’s be honest. But actually most of the time she’s upbeat and she’s just getting past whatever life throws at you.
“I’m also a single parent and I’ve got two daughters and we’ve just created a dynasty of very strong women.
“Bad luck comes our way, we just find ways to skip around it and keep going. I learned that from my mum.”
The 90-year-old who was brought up a Buddhist home but doesn’t practice, says that her happiness lies in not taking life seriously and being kind to others and herself.
She said: “I respect and I follow Buddhist philosophy, not anything else.
“It helps you to accept things as they are, you can’t change them. Just hope and pray that things will get better.
“You can’t correct the world, you can’t correct anybody these days, even my own daughter. You can’t moan and all these things, this is life.
“Try not to be too serious in life, not to take things too seriously. Just whatever comes, it comes. Whatever hardships you are going through don’t think of it as a hardship.
“It’s like going into a muddy field where you have to wade. Have courage. Kindness in another’s struggle and kindness in your own. That’s what I learned in school.”
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