Who would know by looking at her that Mary Thompson is a ninja?
Mary, who attends Weldmar’s day services in Weymouth, is a 4th Dan in karate – one of possibly only three women to have reached that level in the country.
The diminutive pensioner could kick you in the head despite her height – though, she confides with a twinkle, “kicks to the groin are more effective anyway”.
Mary was referred to Weldmar after noticing she was losing weight and being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, which has spread to her spine.
Fit as she was, after years of martial arts training, she had had no difficulties breathing and the diagnosis came out of the blue.
Now she is keeping active with the word games and arts at Trimar.
She said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed coming to day services. It gets you out of your usual routine and gives you a different dimension as you can talk to people here on so many different levels. Some days with this illness you wish it was all over, but you have good days and it’s cheered me up coming here.”
Mum of two Mary, who worked in the Civil Service, has practised karate for 25 years. She got her third Dan at 60, her fourth Dan at 65 and was on course to get her fifth at 70, but her illness has slowed her down a bit – though she was still teaching until just a month ago. She has been to Sweden, Belgium, South Africa and Japan to compete. “I loved it,” she says.
Now she is waiting for her son and grandson to move in with her for her remaining time.
“I’ve kept myself extremely fit,” she says. “Admittedly I did smoke, but I don’t regret anything. I have a very positive outlook, and that keeps you going.”