In 1991, the United Nations adopted 1st October as the International Day of Older Persons. To mark the day this year, we are paying homage to our oldest volunteer Dottie, who has been supporting Open Country members on their activities for the past five years.

At almost 90 years old Dottie Renwick is a force to be reckoned with and an inspiration to us all; she is full of energy, kind-hearted, fun to be with and much-loved by our members who always shriek with delight when she gets on the minibus. During lockdown Dottie has been ringing members for a chat and helping people with their shopping, proving that you are never too old to help out.

Dottie is a regular on our weekend activities helping members to enjoy our walks and countryside outings. She says “It’s a delight to go out with Open Country. I get to go to places I’ve never been to before; it’s really opened my eyes. And the people are what make it and keep it going, they are so interesting – we’ve got some real characters!”

Enjoying an Easy Going Walk with Open Country at South Landing near Flamborough

Dottie is well-travelled and spent ten years as a Saga Tour Leader, which took her all over the world to places such as Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Scandinavia, Spain, the Azores and Egypt. She also worked closer to home and once led a trip to the Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival where she mistook a fisherman for one of the scarecrows and had the whole bus in fits of laughter.

Ever wondered about the origins of the humble bum bag? Well, Dottie claims to have designed the first ever one! She says “I’ve always enjoyed hiking and being in the outdoors. But years ago haversacks were very big and uncomfortable. I wanted a way of carrying my lunch and belongings whilst keeping my hands free, so I bought some material and designed a bag that went around my waist. A year later I saw the first ‘bum bag’ for sale in the shops!”

Dottie’s other ‘claim to fame’ is that she was the first woman in England to ride a Lambretta scooter. In the 1950s Frank Fletcher Motorcycles in Leeds bought five Lambrettas; the first three were sold to men and the fourth was bought by Dottie. She set up a Lambretta club in Leeds and spent many happy years riding all over the place on her scooter.

We look forward to hearing more of Dottie’s stories and anecdotes when restrictions ease and we can all get #OutThereTogether again!

For more information about International Day of Older Persons, see:


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