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The Last Word – Orlene Henry

The Last Word in the July issue of SE23 went to Orlene Henry, a mother of two adult children, and a Group Exercise Instructor.

I teach a wide range of exercise classes in and around the Forest Hill and Dulwich area. I am passionate about encouraging and motivating all adults, particularly the 50s plus age group, to make regular exercise an integral part of their lives.

The very challenging consequences of lockdown we all are experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic, has led me to teaching most of my exercise classes online, currently providing 8 different classes 6 days per week.

How long have you lived in the area?

I have lived in Forest Hill for over 30 years. I became a first time Mum here and happily raised my two children. They both attended very good Primary and Secondary schools in this area. And I have also worked in and around this area for as many years.

What has changed most during that time?

The demographic. When I first moved here, the community was largely made up of older people who had lived in the borough of Lewisham most of their lives, and families with school aged children. In the last 10 years, many young professionals and families have settled here. More recently, I have noticed we also now have a growing number of University students House sharing.

What do you value most about the area you live in?

The beautiful rich diversity of races and cultures in our largely harmonious community. I also really value the superb Public transport services and links we have to many other parts of London and beyond.

What one thing would you change?

I would get a quality Bakery back on Dartmouth road. We used to have a lovely one about 25 years ago. Also get the Hoppers restaurant group (delicious Sri Lankan food!) to open a branch. And finally re open Barclays Bank!!! It is sorely missed!

What’s the one thing you couldn’t do without?

Music. Of all genres. I was raised in a household where music was always on somewhere in the family home. I’m always singing, humming or dancing along to a good tune. On a sunny day, working or relaxing in my garden, my music is often being played, and great music is an essential component of all my exercise classes.

Where is your favourite place to eat?

If a fancy a good takeaway, my first choice would be the Chinese takeaway Fortune Inn, on Dartmouth Road. You’ll always be guaranteed a warm friendly welcome by the lady who takes the orders. And the food is always fresh, tasty and reasonably priced. For delicious top quality meat products, hands down, I head straight to The Butchery on London road.

When I want to relax

My favourite tunes wafting through my Bluetooth speaker, with me either tending to my veg and herb beds, or stretched out on my Lounger, reading or nodding off.

If money was no object

I would employ the services of the very talented architect George Clarke, and have him totally renovate my home, creating more space and light everywhere. And I would ask him to  build me a state of art, fully equipped, sprung wooden floored exercise studio.

My secret ambition

Is to have the time to attend College and learn two languages. Spanish; borne out of my long-standing love of Latin music and Salsa dancing.  And Mandarin because I have a dear friend who speaks it fluently, so I would love to be able to converse, or at the very least, understand what is being said in this language.

Orlene’s group exercise classes. For enquiries please email.