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Australian Ageing Agenda OLD : Australian Ageing Agenda
MARY BIRCHILL wasn't able to get up on the dance floor at UnitingCare Ageing's Seniors Ball but she says the night was a huge success nonetheless. "I was offered a dance but I have a balance problem," Ms Birchill explains. "The boss said, 'Come up and have a go, but I said, 'No, if I fall over it will cause too many problems'. "I sat there and appreciated what was going on around me. One fellow from here, Joe, danced all night and I thought he was going to fall over from a heart attack," she says with a chuckle. Ms Birchill, who lives at the Marion facility in Leichhardt, was one of 750 residents, clients, staff members and relatives from the Sydney region who converged on Randwick Racecourse for the event which was held in the lead up to NSW Seniors Week. The ball had a circus theme and the featured entertainment included 'hoopla girls', dodgem cars and a trapeze act. However, for people like Ms Birchill, the real highlight was the opportunity to mingle with other guests. "I love people," she says. "I'm a people person and I'm always talking to them and making myself known to them. My children used to say, 'Mum, why do you always talk to everyone?' and I would reply, 'It's a good thing to do and it costs you nothing'." The first Seniors Ball was held in 1996 with 75 attendees and previous themes have included 'Abba' and 'Movie Greats'. UnitingCare Ageing's director, Gillian McFee, has attended the ball every year since commencing her role in 2005 and she says the event brings people together in a special way. "Some of the families come a long way to attend and by the end of the night, they have tears in their eyes," said Ms McFee. "They have forgotten what it was like when their mums and dads got dressed up and went out somewhere really special." "And it's a wonderful bonding exercise for the staff and clients as well to see each other having abitoffun."n Vroom vroom... UnitingCare Ageing's annual Seniors Ball was a vibrant and colourful event. The circus comes to town AAA|MAY--JUNE2010|9