A 78-year-old trampolining coach is still teaching hundreds of children in Sutton every week proving age really is just a number. Carole Taylor has been in the business for 34 years, starting her coaching career when her then eight-year-old daughter, Lisa, who is now 45, got into high diving.
She teaches 110 young gymnasts and 70 trampolinists every week at Sutton’s David Weir Leisure Centre and The Phoenix Centre, managed by Everyone Active and Sutton Council. High energy sports seem to run deep in the family too, as at the height of her daughter Lisa’s diving career the youngster managed to reach the Junior Team GB diving squad where she met the likes of Jason Statham and Tom Daley.
When Carole was asked about what her secret was for staying active into older age she said: “I’m always on the go, I don’t really sit down. If I’m not at work, I’m on the go – I’m in the garden, I’m driving here, going there, meeting friends, looking after grandchildren.”
She added that another secret of hers is eating a lot of nuts and running a few miles every day at the leisure centre’s track. Carole really has seen the glamorous side of sports – rubbing shoulders with Olympians and their trainers thanks to her daughter Lisa. A little-known fact is that Jason Statham was in Team GB as a diver before he became a big movie star which is when Carole and Lisa met him.
She spoke about the Hollywood actor and their friendship. She said: “He used to come into where I was working sometimes, he’d come across, pick me up, swing me around and he asked how the two kids were. He was a very nice, down-to-earth guy. He used to sell perfume and things like that out of a suitcase on Oxford Street.”
She said that her boss at the time had an advertising company and Jason joined for a modelling job which is where he met Guy Ritchie and the rest is history. Not only did she meet the A-list actor but also top diver, Olympic gold medallist Tom Daley, as well as another silver medallist Peter Waterfield.
But Carole herself had a glamorous career as a model. She said: “I worked on seven consecutive Miss Worlds with Eric Morley and Julia Morley back in the day, when they were at the Lyceum on The Strand and then they moved to the Royal Albert Hall.”
She also worked on the beauty circuit with Miss England and Miss UK. After this, Carole pointed her aspirations skyward and became an air hostess for Monarch in 1968 – when planes still had propellers. She said: “That was fun, I enjoyed it.”
Since then her 34-year coaching career has gone from success to success. In the early 2000s she coached a team that went to major competitions. She’d worked with a colleague Penny Burrows at a gym in Crystal Palace whose own team members went on to be selected for the Olympics.
She said: “My squad that I had then did very well. They’re all grown up now, you know, all adults, mostly married, but they all did really really well.”
Sadly Carole was in a car accident recently and injured her back and knee so is not as able to do gymnastics or trampolining as she once was but she is still a vigorous coach. She and the team at the David Weir Leisure Centre and the Phoenix Centre are planning to hold in-house competitions for their gymnasts and trampolinists in future and perhaps have a competitive team at some stage too, but Carole said the children they have are quite young and need to be nurtured before this can come to fruition.
When asked how long she plans to remain head coach, Carole said: “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll bail out when I’m 80. so I’m 80 in two years’ time, so then that might be the time to bail out. I don’t want to go out of here in a coffin.”
Get the biggest stories from around London straight to your inbox. Sign up to MyLondon’s The 12 HERE for the 12 biggest stories each day.