There’s no slowing down Hip Op Gran
Posted on 14 Nov 2013
There’s no slowing down Hip Op Gran
She golfs. Makes mincemeat of crossword puzzles. Loves having the girls over for sundowners and refuses to let age slow her down.

Married to Gerry Hatrick, Aggie is also known as Hip Op Granny because despite bones that are not as flexible as they once were, she refuses to let advancing years get the better of her. She firmly believes that you don't stop laughing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop laughing. ‘In order to keep moving, you’ve got to keep moving…’ is one of her favourite sayings and she always encourages folks to ‘wiggle their booties’.

In fact, Aggie is everything that the stereotypical granny of old is not. She values her independence yet loves the security and camaraderie offered by village life. Full of wit, wisdom and warmth, she epitomises the spirit of many of the residents of retirement villages like those run by Rand Aid Association or, as Aggie prefers to call them, ‘lifestyle centres for the young at heart’.

Conceived by non-profit organisation Rand Aid Association just over two years ago to give a voice to people who may be mature but are certainly not ‘waiting for God’, Aggie loves sharing tips for ageing gracefully and enjoying a rich life with others who remember having tea in Greaterman’s and riding in lifts operated by charming gentlemen and women.

She is not called Hip Op Gran for nothing, as her addiction to social media proves. She loves using Facebook and Twitter to chat to and encourage her peers on behalf of her friend and champion, Rand Aid.
When Rand Aid hit upon the idea of Aggie, they needed an image to match her strong personality. Residents of Rand Aid retirement villages Inyoni Creek, Tarentaal Village, Elphin Lodge and Thornhill Manor were asked to try their hands at drawing her. Elphin Lodge resident Joy Bishop’s entry was a hit, and it was her design that was used to give life to Aggie. Designer Leigh-Anne Keogh, whose grandparents Corrie and Arthur Barnard live at Tarentaal, tweaked the image to arrive at the Aggie that so many know and love today. Voice-over artist Tracy Pretorius, who herself is passionate about supporting people as they grow older, is able to transform herself into Aggie through the use of a wig, glasses and beads, for those times when Aggie is needed to make a public appearance.

Aggie loves to have a good laugh with other ‘oldies’ and is very well received. ‘Many grumpy grandpas walked away with a spring in their step and a twinkle in their eyes after meeting Aggie,’ said Tracy after her appearance in October at the Rand Aid stand of the Retirement Expo, held at the Coca-Cola Dome.

She loves to laugh and in turn make others laugh but also has some serious messages to share. She worries that the not-so-elderly do not make sufficient provision for their future; that youngsters often neglect their parents and grandparents; and that many elderly people in South Africa, including at Rand Aid’s subsidised-fee retirement homes and care centre, battle to survive. ‘A donation of some toiletries, treats or, if you can do more, a donation to help these centres carry on caring for vulnerable senior citizens, could help change their lives for the better,’ she said, urging people to remember the elderly in need this festive season.

Since her conception in the middle of 2011, Aggie has shared her views on an almost daily basis via social media, has appeared at retirement expos and been interviewed on radio, where she had DJs in hysterics with her funny sayings and antics.

‘I like hearing my own voice, and, being the age I am, seem to get away with it,’ said Aggie. ‘That’s good though, because it’s all for the benefit of the aged.’

Follow Hip Op Granny on Twitter (@hipop_granny) and on Facebook (Aggie Hatrick). For more information on Rand Aid, call 011 882 2510 or visit www.randaid.co.za.