Pearls from care clients are pure gold

By Jennifer Lipman, August 11, 2011
Anita Wiseman is a picture of happiness — and speaks from a wealth of experience

Anita Wiseman is a picture of happiness — and speaks from a wealth of experience

When Anita Wiseman was offered the opportunity to perform as a dancer in America, she pondered it but declined.

Instead, she gave up a glamorous showbiz life - performing at cabarets, music halls and prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall and the London Palladium - to get married.

Now 100 and a regular visitor to Redbridge Jewish Community Centre, she says the sacrifice was worth it. "My husband left me with three wonderful children and he used to tell me that the best thing he ever did was to marry me."

For her, the important thing was being happy with her decision. "You have got to be enthusiastic or you can't go forward in life. You have to love what you're doing and I loved what I did."

Her wise words are among those being shared by Jewish Care clients and volunteers as part of the Pearls of Wisdom video campaign. Officially launched in April, it has attracted close to 14,000 views and support from celebrities including Sarah Brown, Jonathan Ross and Claudia Winkleman.

Stella Redwood is in favour of sex before marriage

Stella Redwood is in favour of sex before marriage

Another backer is Lord Sugar, who believes that "elderly people have a lot to give".

The campaign features 14 people from all walks of life with a collective age of more than 1,270 years. Its aim is to raise awareness of the knowledge accumulated by the elderly, and how much they have to contribute.

"We wanted to challenge the way that people think about their elders," explained the charity's communications and marketing director, Justine Harris.

"Eighty per cent of what we do at Jewish Care is with elderly people. We have an ageing population and we need to start including them in decisions.

"But we wanted to do it in a way that celebrated their richness, diversity and wisdom."

Former furrier Alec Cooper, 91, offers the "pearl" of always seeing the other person's viewpoint.

"Stand up for yourself - don't be so shy," is the tip from one-time Savile Row tailor Jean Nadler, 91.

Stella Redwood, a 93-year-old former actress, took a pragmatic approach to 21st-century relationships, advising the younger generation to "have sex before marriage - try it out".

In the latest stage in the campaign, the pearls were ranked in order of importance by a panel of 1,000 members of the public. "Make the most of every day" came out on top.

It tallies with the view on life of Mrs Wiseman, who still has a pair of steel-toed dancing shoes from when she started out in the entertainment industry. "Young people must make more effort with what they do and enjoy what they do," she said. "If they don't, they won't be able to give 100 per cent."

However, her three great-grandchildren were not a receptive audience. "It's hopeless giving advice to youngsters," she joked. "They'd say: 'Don't tell me what to do.'"

But even if they ignore her wisdom now, things might change in time. Another of her pearls is: "You never stop learning."

Last updated: 3:00pm, August 11 2011