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Me and my health: Tracy Scott-Stewart on her lifestyle

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Creative: Tracy Scott-Stewart is a dedicated sea swimmer

Creative: Tracy Scott-Stewart is a dedicated sea swimmer

Creative: Tracy Scott-Stewart is a dedicated sea swimmer

Tracy Scott-Stewart is manager of Vincent’s Kircubbin, which was named UK Charity Shop of the Year runner-up in 2019.

Do you take regular exercise, and if so, what?

Until last August my regular exercise revolved around beach walks with my three beloved rescue dogs: Delilah, a fawn 14- year-old pug; 13-year-old Daisy, a black pug, and Velvet, an 11-year-old black labrador.

A few people had mentioned open water swimming to me so one day I decided to give it a go to see what the fuss was about. I was not disappointed. I fell in love with sea swimming and in summer I would spend around 20 minutes in the water, and in the winter, whilst it’s only 10 or 15 minutes a day, it is definitely worth the effort. And as a fashion lover, it gave me an excuse to invest in the fabulous kit from a new swimsuit to a wetsuit and even a dry robe.

When my 100th swim was approaching last month I decided to celebrate it by fundraising for St Vincent de Paul. Thirty-five of us went ‘Into the Sea’ for SVP and raised £850 in vital funds for the charity.

What is the worst illness you’ve had?

Depression. I suffered from several bouts over the years in my 30s and 40s. So far I’m loving life in my 50s. I believe that, in a way, although I wouldn’t have believed it at the time, it was probably one of the best challenges I’ve ever had to face. I’m definitely stronger and more resilient.

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How healthy is your diet?

I believe in everything in moderation. I don’t stick to a regime but I do think about what I eat.

Any bad habits?

Coca-Cola. None of your Diet Coke or Coke Zero for me.

Do you drink and smoke? If so, how much?

I would have a drink as a treat on special occasions. On a night out with friends for instance. My festive tipple is a glass of Moet. I’m fussy when it comes to Champagne.

I’m probably the worst kind of smoker as I’m a reformed one. I’m really anti-smoking now. I smoked for about 10 or 12 years in my 30s, and looking back I don’t know why or how I did it. Never mind the expense, but I realised after I stopped how bad it was for me.

Do you take any supplements?

I take magnesium to help with my sleep, zinc because I had a bad cold before the pandemic and I’ve just stayed on it, and vitamin D for the days when we don’t have any sun to soak up.

How do you take time out?

As manager of Vincent’s I have my ideal job. I get to be creative with the shopfloor, meet customers and manage the operational side of the business, so when I’m off at the weekends I get creative customising jackets. I began by customising denim and camouflage jackets for myself and then I had a few requests when people started to see what I’d done. I customised a sea-themed jacket for a kayaker, a vintage one for a guy who was opening a vintage store, and a Frida Kahlo-inspired one for a fan of her work. Maybe when I retire I’ll turn my therapeutic hobby into a business.

My creativity comes out in the garden in summer when I spend hours creating themed areas while my partner Mark cuts the grass. I’ve lived along the peninsula for more than 20 years and I never take it for granted. We used to holiday along the coast when I was young and it takes me back. I’m so thankful to live here.

How well do you sleep?

I could easily sleep on the end of a pin but I’m reading Claudia Winkleman’s book at the moment and she talks about napping. I think it’s going to be my new year’s resolution. However, I’ve been known some nights to wake up at 3am and design window displays for the shops. I could have five pages of plans drawn up for Vincent’s, Little Vincent’s and Vincent’s Living before going back to sleep.

Do you worry about getting old?

I say bring it on. Like a fine wine, I feel I’m getting better with age. I’m feeling fab in my 50s and I’m looking forward to the sensational 60s. I really don’t think I would like to be reliving my 20s, 30s or 40s now. Growing old is certainly a privilege. I’ve figured out what I want to do and life is much more simple than I would have imagined it could be. Working at Vincent’s I’m very aware of what I would have spent in my 20s or 30s and I’m horrified to think that I didn’t realise then that being healthy and happy are truly what matters.

What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?

I don’t like the taste of milk so I’ve switched to soya milk, but I feel that taking time out, walking the dogs or swimming keeps me feeling healthy moreso than having a go-to product as such.

If I could buy myself some ‘Tracy Time’, I would. It took me a long time to realise I should prioritise myself and I think we should all be kinder to ourselves. If anyone reading this is struggling with their mental health I firmly believe they should seek help rather than suffer in silence.

Speaking out and getting help is so important for mental and overall health.

SVP is the largest voluntary charity in Ireland. SVP members in Northern Ireland work in all communities to support people who are experiencing poverty and social exclusion, promoting self-sufficiency and working for social justice. If you would like to find out more tel: 028 9035 1561. To make a donation to the annual SVP Winter Appeal, visit www.svpni.co.uk or, if you would like to volunteer at Vincent’s Kircubbin, tel: 028 4273 8075


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