Play Together. Stay Together.

By Tiffany Auvinen

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They once appeared together in a school photo when they were eight years old, but it wasn’t until Chris Carter began to play badminton with Sheelagh’s brother, that she caught his eye at 17. Now, married for 43 years, the couple enjoys numerous activities together - especially travelling and playing with their children and grandchildren.

The Carters agree the key to their successful marriage is laughter. “We’ll have a disagreement, and then we’ll make up straight away,” says Chris, a retired accountant.


Never ones to let opportunities pass by, the couple has applied to volunteer for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Sheelagh, a retired oncology nurse, has completed the first phase of the intake process and Chris is still awaiting his initial interview. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the Olympics, and represent Canada,” says Sheelagh, who would like to show attendants to their seats. “I’m interested in seeing how the event operates,” adds Chris.


There are 25,000 volunteer positions, and 63,000 applicants vying for them. “Canada, and especially British Columbia, is so multi-cultural,” says Sheelagh. “It will be nice for our grandson, Pierce, who is multi-ethnic, to be exposed to both of his cultures and embrace differences; English and Chinese, through his visits to the Olympics.”


Chris and Sheelagh have been globetrotting for decades to the U.S., Spain, France, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Hawaii and London, England, their home city. Most recently, they travelled to Ireland, where Sheelagh met her longtime school friend from England to celebrate Sheelagh’s brother’s 60th birthday. They visited the Waterford glass factory, flew to Devonshire, and then met their daughters and son, along with their families, from Canada.


The entire 17-member family stayed on the beach, sailed, and attended a family wedding in Yorkshire, which took place in an 11th century castle. ”It was amazing,” says Chris. Sheelagh adds, “The trip to Ireland and England was complex since we met with so many family members, but it was incredible!” During the wedding, a videographer interviewed the Canadian guests, so Sheelagh, Chris, and family decided to sing O Canada. “Our son, Robert, added some funny words about our travels, and then we finished off the remainder of the patriotic song. It was great fun!” says Sheelagh.


When Sheelagh and Chris aren’t travelling or bonding with family, they spend time with their “other” family at the Canadian Cancer Society. Sheelagh volunteers a few times a week at the reception desk, and as a dispatcher, booking drivers for cancer patients who have doctor’s appointments.


“I began volunteering because I always remembered a patient who had breast cancer while I was working in the oncology department at the hospital in Edmonton,” says Sheelagh, “She said that she wished she knew about self-breast examinations. Then, I was inspired by a Cancer Society presentation, so I decided to get involved.” Sheelagh has presented to government organizations, the Intercultural Association of Victoria, and numerous First Nations groups regarding cancer prevention and body awareness.


“Being responsible for your body is important. I had a friend who had bowel changes and then three months later, she passed away from colon cancer. If she would have been more aware of her health changes, she may have increased her lifespan,” she says. “I even encouraged Chris to volunteer.”


Chris is past president of the Cancer Society on Vancouver Island, and is helping create a corporate engagement program. He is still a member of the Cancer Society’s finance committee for British Columbia and Yukon.

Their other healthy hobbies include playing bridge, skiing and walking. They’ve recently acquired a new interest – geocaching.


Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the features and capability of a GPS unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location co-ordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards.

The rules are simple – if players take something from the cache, they must leave another prize behind. “This is a great way to stay active, and see beautiful sites all over Vancouver Island,” Sheelagh says. “More couples ought to try this.”


Sheelagh and Chris agree that planning activities together make them happy, and help them grow in their marriage. They recommend that couples try new hobbies together, so there's always something to look forward to. A couple that plays together, stays together.

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