Suffolk squash veteran Margaret Armstrong, 85, earns place in Guinness World Records
Meet the world’s oldest competitive squash player.
Eighty-five-year-old Margaret Armstrong, from Dalham, found out last week the title was hers after her application to Guinness World Records was officially approved.
The grandmother, who has been playing squash most of her adult life, plays twice a week at the Moreton Hall Health Club, in Bury St Edmunds, with her regular partner Betty Albon.
“Someone first suggested to me about two years ago that I contact the world record people and when I checked up I found it was then an 84 year old that had the title,” said Margaret, “so I hung around a bit.”
She said she’d had to supply the record keepers with her birth certificate and an independent referee had to verify she was actively playing.
Liverpool-born Margaret first started playing squash when she moved south the Middlesex. “I had been a keen tennis player but at that time there were virtually no covered courts so you often travelled long distances to play competitive matches only to have to sit around waiting for the rain to stop.
“I don’t think I had really even heard of squash until we loved to London,” she said. “I saw there were some courts where we lived in Pinner and I thought I think I will have a go at this silly game and it turned out I was rather good at it.” She joined the Northwood Squash Club, in Pinner, which had something of a reputation and used to invite visiting squash champions to play on its courts.
Among them Egyptian star player AbouTaleb who during the 1960s won the British Open three times.
“He watched me play and saw I could hit the ball and started coaching me,” said Margaret.
She ended up playing for Middlesex and took part in the British Open championship but found herself playing Australian superstar Heather Mckay, who was 16 times British Open champion between 1962 and 1977 and only lost two matches in her entire career.
“I drew her in the first round of the open and that was that,”said Margaret, “she was a wonderful player.”
Margaret’s continued enthusiasm for squash is even more remarkable considering seven years ago she also lost her left foot in a road crash when her car was hit by a driver who had overshot a junction near Moulton travelling at around 60mph. Margaret blacked out and was treated and the scene before being taken to hospital where she remained for six days.
“They had to re-attach my foot using a titanium plate and I have around 18 pins in my ankle and a few in my knee,” she said.
“I suppose you could call me the bionic woman and it’s certainly fun at airports when I always set all the alarms going.”