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All the best: Dame Mary Peters on her favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The Olympic gold medallist, now 75, is the president of the Association of Ulster Drama Festivals. She lives in Dunmurry.

My best moment

That was winning the Olympic gold medal in 1972. I certainly hoped I would win it, and went to Munich believing I could.

My best song

Imagine by John Lennon. I came from Liverpool originally, as did he, and I didn’t live far from where he lived. I also like the words — they mean a lot to me.

My best way to relax

In my garden. I’ve neglected it over the past five years because I was busy as Lord Lieutenant, but it’s coming back now because I have a bit more time to  work in it.

My best job

That would be when I was Lord Lieutenant of the city of Belfast, which I stepped down from last year after five years. I loved every day of it and it was the best gift I was given in life. The role meant I was the personal representative of the Queen and would greet the Royal family when they came here. I also attended citizenship ceremonies, giving out certificates to those who wanted to gain a British passport. It’s something you’re invited to do — I was asked to go and meet someone at Stormont, and I thought I had done something wrong! They offered me the opportunity, and I took it by the scruff of the neck and loved every day of it.

My best bit of advice

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm — and that advice came from my coach, Buster McShane. It’s something I’ve held on to since. Everything I do, I do it with enthusiasm, otherwise it’s not worth doing.

My best movie

Chariots Of Fire — I know there’s a continuing theme of the Olympics here. I knew one of the characters in the film, Howard Abrahams, because he was the chairman of the Board of Athletics. I was standing with him one evening after an athletics event in Crystal Palace, and I remember him turning to me and telling me it was 50 years to the day since he won his gold medal. I wondered if I would ever get to that point — I’m at 43 years now. I enjoy the cinema, too, even though, I don’t get much time to go. I’ve just been given DVDs of the Rome Olympics, so I’m looking forward to sitting down and watching those.

My best gift

The Belfast Telegraph gave me a brooch whenever I came back from the Olympics, and I treasure it very much. It was based on the design of the roof of the stadium at Munich.

My best buy

I bought a made-to-measure beautiful black coat when I was on holiday in Cyprus a number of years ago. The tragedy is I left it somewhere in Belfast and I haven’t seen it since. I retraced my steps and everything, but it was gone.

My best achievement

Raising the money to build the Mary Peters Track and setting up my charity the Mary Peters Trust, which helps  150 young people to realise  their dreams every year.

My best book

I love all of Maeve Binchy’s books. They are great for reading on holiday.

  • The 2015 Ulster Drama Festival runs from May 18 until May 23 at the Theatre At The Mill in Newtownabbey. For tickets and information, go to

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