Dive in with scuba-enthusiast Maureen and find out about her life under the sea.
Wearing a T-shirt with a diver on it, and the slogan ‘assuming I was like most grandmas is your first mistake’, Maureen greets us at the door of her home in Merseyside with a beaming smile and an infectious laugh.
‘I know people are really shocked when I say I dive, so I just thought the t-shirt was funny. (laughs) And it shows that at any age you can do anything!’
At 59 years old, Maureen has spent the last few years living up to that mantra. Zip wires, abseiling, quad biking, white-water rafting… but it was scuba diving that became her passion at the age of 51:
‘The very first time I ever went scuba diving was in Sharm El Sheikh in the Red Sea. I’d always wanted to dive. When I was younger, in my early teens, I wanted to be the female Jacques Cousteau. Absolutely loved it - the colours were fabulous. I qualified when I was 53 and I’ve got friends in their 70s that are divers! I went on and got my PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) open water certificate in 2011 and, since then, I’ve been diving in a lot of places across the UK.’
So what’s so special about diving?
‘It’s just so relaxing and calming. You feel like you’re flying through the water. Each dive is so different. When I was in Lanzarote we went on a couple of night dives and that was just absolutely amazing. We saw angel sharks and there was a ray that went flying underneath us – it looked to me like it was six foot wide!’
As Maureen packs all her diving kit into the back of her car ready for a trip to her local dive centre in Eccleston, it’s hard to miss all the diving memorabilia around her home – mementos from trips abroad, gifts from her friends and family… On her car boot sits a sticker with the words ‘Dive Diva’.
So how do you start diving if you’re a newbie?
It’s obvious that diving is a major part of Maureen’s life, but what about planning for her funeral?
‘Actually I was talking about it to my daughter-in-law at the weekend. I would rather have a gathering of friends talking about the stuff they did with me that’s fun, than actually talking about anything sad.’
On top of diving and extreme sports, Maureen fills her life with adventure and new experiences, including work as a TV and film extra, and studying for a diploma in counselling.
‘You can never stop learning when you hit 50. I feel because of all the experiences I’ve had throughout my life, counselling is a good way to help people come to terms with any of their issues, and it’s very interesting to understand why you do certain things or what is important to you and why.’
So, what are the lessons learnt from those life experiences?
‘Make sure you have fun and laugh a lot. I went through years where I was very serious, and had very serious jobs, but I really think it’s important to enjoy your life.
‘The thing is not to worry about you, not to be scared of anything. Just do it… because you’ve only got one life and if you’re not smiling at least once a day and laughing, it can get quite dreary.’
Posted on 19 April 2017