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‘I’m one of the lucky ones, I’m financially OK’: welcome to ageing Britain, where pensioners outnumber children

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As an hour-long exercise class in Cromer’s parish hall culminates in a triumphant ribbon routine, irrepressible instructor Annamarie Sterne addresses the group. “Has anyone got a knot?” One or two raise their hands, before another baffled attendee discovers she’s managed to swirl two knots into her ribbon. “How did that happen?!” she laughs.The 40-strong class overwhelmingly made up of women over 65 – the oldest, Anne, 84, completed the entire routine – is a picture of health in older age.

A few opt to exercise from a chair during the floor work, but everyone has put their all into the hour. “Their attitude is amazing,” says Sterne, who calls her class the “crème de la crème” of the north Norfolk town’s older population.There should be little surprise at the demand for Sterne’s classes, and not just because of her infectious enthusiasm.

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