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104 year-old Dorothy’s birthday wish to swim with sharks comes true

Tuesday 21 May 2019

This morning, daring Uniting Springwood aged care resident Dorothy Yeomans celebrated her 104th birthday by ticking off a bucket list wish to swim with sharks at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium!

Proving that age and living in residential care is no barrier to living life to the full, brave Dorothy donned a wetsuit and entered the tank which is home to five Grey Nurse Sharks, 25 Port Jackson Sharks, two Smooth Rays (one the size of a queen-size mattress), one Stingray and a range of tropical fish.

Dorothy loved the experience, saying: “How fabulous was that! I never thought I’d come that close to a shark, but thank you to the wonderful team at Uniting Springwood and SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium for making this happen.”

Harry Masefield, Shark Dive Xtreme Supervisor at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, said: “We’re blown away by Dorothy’s amazing attitude! It’s not everyday you hear that someone wants to celebrate their 104th birthday by swimming with sharks, so we knew we had to make it special! We loved making Dorothy’s birthday wish come true.”

Leisure and Wellness Coordinator at Uniting Springwood, Nic Langenberg organised the special event with assistance from the Shark Dive Xtreme team at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium.

“At Uniting, we take a wholistic approach to care and this includes creating positive life experiences for people in our care,” Nic said.

“Dorothy flagged ‘swimming with sharks’ as her ‘bucket list wish’ with Uniting a year ago on her last birthday - we love her enthusiasm for taking life with both hands. Uniting supports our residents to fulfil their wishes - this is one of the most unusual, but it’s so rewarding and it’s been such a privilege to help make it happen. Thank you to the Shark Dive Xtreme team for personalising this special experience for Dorothy.”

Diving with sharks at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is an exhilarating experience and one of only a few experiences worldwide where you’re guaranteed an underwater encounter with sharks. The colony of Grey Nurse Sharks range in size from 2.5 to 3.2 metres. During the standard experience, guests scuba dive in the tank but the Shark Dive Xtreme team arranged for a special swimming experience for Dorothy on this unique occasion. For more information on Shark Dive Xtreme, visit: https://www.sydneyaquarium.com.au/tickets/shark-dive-xtreme/


Media contacts

Contact Media@uniting.org or 0457 568 938.

Additional background

Link to RAW video is here and a link to underwater footage is here, high res photos are here.

  • Dorothy Yeomans lived independently until the age of 101 – and is no stranger to adventure.
  • On her 90th birthday she flew overseas to the UK and Canada.
  • Dorothy moved into Uniting Springwood in 2016 aged 101.
  • On her 103rd birthday, Uniting staff helped fulfill Dorothy’s dream to have her first ever helicopter ride.
  • Link to previous coverage of her ride: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10155260930316097
  • It was after her helicopter ride that she was asked ‘what next?’ for her 104th birthday.
  • Ever cheeky – ‘swimming with sharks’ was her quick-witted reply.
  • When asked ‘why swimming with sharks’ – Dorothy’s response: “Why not!!?’
  • What started out as a light-hearted joke is today coming to fruition after Uniting Springwood’s Leisure and Wellness Coordinator Nic Langenberg contacted SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium to help make Dorothy’s unusual request a reality – and Dorothy couldn’t have been more excited.
  • In addition to Uniting Leisure and Wellness Coordinator Nic Langenberg, also joining Dorothy on her special day was her Uniting Springwood Homemaker, Karen Norris (at left - for captions)