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Wales Online
Wales Online
Sarah Ping & Naomi Corrigan

Care home resident gets her skates back on aged 97, with support from Torvill and Dean

A 97-year-old care home resident and former ice skater received a warm message from Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean after making a return to the rink. Doreen Barber, from Stansted in Essex, first started skating aged 12.

She had to temporarily hang up her skates when the Second World War began. But she soon came back to her hobby and skated regularly throughout her life teaching her children and husband too.

Organised by her care home, Care UK’s Mountfitchet House in Coltsfield, she paid a visit to Riverside Leisure Centre in Chelmsford on January 23. After watching a video with words of encouragement from former Olympians Torvill and Dean beforehand, Ms Barber put on her skates and whizzed around the rink on a wheelchair.

Touched by her story and speaking from the studio of ITV’s Dancing On Ice, Torvill told Ms Barber: “We hope you enjoyed going back onto the ice again.” Dean added: “We wish you all the very best and keep on watching and whenever you get a chance to get to the rink, come down to the ice rink.”

Despite not being on the ice for many years, Ms Barber’s love for the sport never faded. She has watched Dancing On Ice each year and regularly shared fond memories with her carers and other residents about her skating days.

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Speaking after her experience, Ms Barber said: “Imagine being my age and being on the ice – I never thought I’d see the day! It was so much fun and I had a wonderful time. “I’m touched that (Torvill and Dean) would take the time to do this for me.

“I feel like a celebrity. People will have to pay to talk to me now!”

The visit formed part of Mountfitchet House’s Wishing Tree Initiative, which encourages residents to put wishes forward, allowing them to reconnect with a past hobby or try something completely new. Joanna Duke, home manager at Mountfitchet House, said: “Ms Barber often talks fondly about when she used to ice skate, so when she expressed a desire to give it another go we were thrilled to help make it happen."

Torvill (left) and Dean (right) shared a video message with Ms Barber from the Dancing On Ice studio (Care UK)

She added: "Ms Barber had a lovely day, and the video from her skating idols really was the icing on the cake. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at Mountfitchet House, and the team over at Dancing On Ice, who helped to make her wish come true.”

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