Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Ireland's oldest tennis player - 99-year-old - finally hangs up his racquet

Arthur Norris in action

Ireland's oldest tennis player has revealed the secret to his longevity as he approaches his centenary – a glass of whiskey.

Dunmurry man Arthur Norris, who turns 100 tomorrow, has been honoured at a special ceremony by Lisburn City Council for his dedicated commitment to the game he loves.

Born on July 10, 1914 Arthur joined Windsor Lawn Tennis Club in Belfast in 1946 and he served as club secretary for more than 60 years.

Sadly, Arthur has now been reluctantly forced to hang up his racquet – but not before he offered some sage advice.

The former RAF serviceman attributed the secret of his longevity to an adage he picked up during his days in the forces and a regular drop of his favourite tipple.

"'Keep your nose clean' is an old expression I learned while in the RAF and I have always done that," he said

"Oh, and I also have a glass of a well-known Irish malt whiskey every Wednesday afternoon with friends, so that keeps me going as well."

Active Arthur has a regular routine which sees him get up at six every morning and he still manages to cook for himself before his carers arrive.

"I am up and about long before they come to the door and by that stage I have already had my breakfast of porridge – the real stuff not the instant variety – and a boiled egg washed down with a cup of tea," he said.

Two years ago Arthur received a lifetime achievement award from Windsor and he still attends the club every Saturday.

A former primary school principal at Fort Hill College, Arthur was feted by around 30 guests yesterday, including ex-pupils, family, friends and fellow Windsor members at a function in his honour.

Lisburn mayor Andrew Ewing paid tribute to the inspiring pensioner.

"Throughout his life he has worked for the betterment of others during his time spent in the armed forces and within education," he said.

"I wish Arthur many happy years to come and I am delighted to host a reception for him, his family and friends."

In his playing days Arthur took to the courts twice a week to play doubles with friends, but nowadays he has been reduced to a spectator's role.

"Last September I had a mini-stroke while on holiday in England with my sister and I ended up in hospital because of it," he told his audience yesterday.

"So I haven't been as active as I would have liked since then, although I did try to play tennis again earlier this year.

"Unfortunately, I had a fall while on the court and it altered my face a bit so I suppose that's the end of a not so illustrious career.

"I am honoured to be here in the mayor's parlour today and I want to say thank you to everyone who has been so kind to me – there are a lot of Good Samaritans in this little province."

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