THE world’s oldest scuba diver, the irrepressible 95-year-old Ray Woolley, will celebrate 100 dives in Latchi this weekend.
Woolley, who lives in Limassol and has dived all over the world, says he is particularly fond of diving in Latchi.
“For the last few years most of my dives have been with Latchi watersports and they all make it so easy for me, which at my age is great.Latchi is such a lovely place to dive,” he told the Cyprus Mail.
His dives in Latchi have ranged from10.2 metres to 47.1 metres over the years.
Last year, Ray was catapulted into the spotlight when he broke his own Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest scuba diver when he dived down to 40.6 metres for 44 minutes at the well-known Zenobia shipwreck in Larnaca.
The 95-year-old is a great example of healthy ageing and fitness, though he has to now accept his gear has to be put on board boat for him, and that he can no longer climb down cliffs with his equipment on his back.
“I’m not doing too badly but as you get older, you have to be a bit more careful and sensible and take care of yourself,” he said.
Woolley revels in his new found fame, which he said gives him a special buzz. People often approach him to talk to him.
“So many people know me now and it’s really nice. A few years ago, I couldn’t believe something like this would happen to me and it’s an honour to be able to promote healthy ageing to everyone.”
The nonagenarian is determined to bring his message of healthy ageing to as many people as possible. He has already appeared on radio and TV, and featured in newspapers and magazines around the world talking about how he approaches a healthy lifestyle. He is also an avid swimmer and swims at least three times a day in his swimming pool.
Ray is a World War II veteran who served in the Royal Navy and ‘SBS Special Force 281’ in the Dodecanese. After the war, he trained as a radio engineer and whilst working for the British foreign office was posted to Cyprus in 1964.
He is originally from Port Sunlight on the Wirral Peninsula in the UK, and started swimming at his local swimming baths aged five. In Cyprus he dives with the British sub aqua club- BSAC-at RAF Akrotiri and began diving with the Portland and Weymouth British Sub Aqua Club in 1960.
“I want to show that I can do these things and make people understand that they can too. I don’t necessarily mean diving, but keeping fit and healthy.”
The 95-year-old also features in an award winning documentary film about his life. ‘Life Begins at 90’, which was filmed in Cyprus and highlights Ray’s life.
The film is competing at festivals around the world, and will next be shown at the upcoming prestigious 18th International Red Cross Film Festival to be held in Varna, Bulgaria, in June.
“I hope people like my film and that it inspires them,” he said.
Ray will turn 96 on August 28, and has no plans to slow down. He has already travelled to Dubai and Australia this year, and is also intending to attend a family wedding in the UK.
On June 6, Ray will also participate in marking the D Day landings at a church service in Episkopi.
“On Sunday 9, I will also take part in a dive at Akrotiri, laying poppies and a wreath.”
He added that it appears he is the only member of the Limassol branch of the Royal British Legion who served in WW2, as they are all “getting on a bit”.