Marjorie is double top!

DARTS is usually the domain of beer swilling men with plenty of gold jewellery, but one star Suffolk player is proving there is more to the sport than its stereotype image.

DARTS is usually the domain of beer swilling men with plenty of gold jewellery, but one star Suffolk player is proving there is more to the sport than its stereotype image.

Marjorie Hayward, who is 90, is the Thurston WI team's secret weapon.

Despite her longevity, she is renowned for her pinpoint accuracy, which her admiring team mates put down partly to her love of bitter lemon rather than the more common pint of lager.

And diabetic Mrs Hayward, who on Saturday celebrated her birthday with 120 other friends at Thurston village hall, has no intention of hanging up her darts.


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The ace has a personal best score of 110 and regularly leads her team of four to victories over WI teams from across Suffolk and beyond.

“I have been playing for over 20 years,” said Mrs Hayward. “Most of the people I used to play with then have retired from the game but I don't want to stop.

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“I absolutely love it - I love the game and I love the company - it is really good for me. I am still quite able to do it. We have a lovely team and they think I am a good player so I suppose I would have to go along with them.”

Team mate Gill Flower, 64, said Mrs Hayward was “instrumental” in the team winning the Suffolk West WI Federation darts shield last year: “Marjorie is a very good player - she is a natural who really enjoys her darts.

“She has an extra special twirly darts action when she is going for the doubles - we love her to bits.”

Mrs Flower insisted the WI was about far more than jam and Jerusalem: “It is not unusual in the WI for ladies to play darts because every village has enough for a team but it is unusual for someone of Marjorie's age to play.”

But the player says the team does not indulge in the usual pints of beer associated with darts - instead opting for platters of their sandwiches at their Thurston local, the Victoria, and orange juice keeps the arrow wizards in their winning ways.

Mrs Flower believes the team's star performer may well be one of the oldest competition players in the country: “I think other teams have players in their 70s but not in the 90s - she is a real inspiration to us all. The way she lives and carries on is great - she always has a wonderful smile on her face she is very popular and the visiting teams always make a big fuss of her.”

Mrs Hayward's daughter, Jan Sparkes, 52, who helped organise her birthday party, said her mother was an “incredible” personality who had simply got on with life.

“She is no trouble to her children as she is so independent,” said Ms Sparkes. “On one occasion her pipes burst and she was left without water but she was unfazed and simply went to the vicarage for a flask of tea everyday. She is wacky but everyone loves her.”

And one of her more eccentric habits, which perhaps reflects her love of darts, is to notch up the number of mice she catches in traps around her home on a special scoreboard, added her daughter.

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