Interview with Shirley Price MBE
Did you know we have an octogenarian sky diving, wing walker in Bodle Street Green? Yes, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shirley Price for The Bodle this month and this is what I learned…..
At the tender age of 70, Shirley started her airborne exploits with a spot of paragliding in Paxos. This didn’t excite her daredevil nature sufficiently which explains why Shirley was drawn to join the Utterly Butterly wing walkers at their HQ at Cirencester a few years later. It was a glorious day and Shirley remembers the magnificent views from the plane and her stomach churning as it did a huge dive from 500 feet at 140mph!
She raised £10,000 for the East Sussex blind and partially sighted (ESAB), a charity close to her heart as Vice Patron and Chairman of the Friends of ESAB. This would have finished off the hardiest of us but no, not Shirley! Why not try a spot of skydiving? After all she was only 80! That was 8 years ago and she decided to take 2 friends, David Howell and Paul Millross, both who have visual impairment, to join her. Shirley did admit that the scariest moment was sitting on the edge of the plane just before the jump; (just hearing her recount that made me feel faint!). She did 1 mile of freefall before the parachute opened and to top it all, a mid-air twirl (which her grandchildren put the instructor up to!) Another £10,000 was raised! Wouldn’t you think you would stop there? Don’t be ridiculous! Shirley had other plans. Time to join the family skiing in Chamonix and paraglide off Mont Blanc. Why not? It’s only 2000ft up. Shirley recalled the day. She was all harnessed up, ready to jump, when the instructor shouted in a thick French accent “Now, you have to run at 20 miles an hour, otherwise you will not take off and will roll 500 metres down the mountain on your tummy and have to climb back up!” Shirley thought that it was probably 20 km/hr but even that was a stretch for her, recovering from a recent double prolapse. Sacre bleu! Then 2 Frenchman came to the rescue and straddled Shirley on either side. Her little legs never moved as fast in their lives as she shot off the side of the mountain with her instructor, flying like an eagle for 19 minutes with bird’s eye views and a feeling of overwhelming peace. All too soon they landed in a heap covered with the canopy because the instructor tripped over on landing. That was closely followed by a ratherportly man who landed on top of them! Another £8,000 in the coffers!
This year is ESABs 100th birthday and Shirley has unsurprisingly volunteered to absail down an 100ft building! Over the years Shirley has raised over £150,000 for this worthy cause. This is in addition to her sterling work with RDA of 35 years teaching carriage driving for the disabled, all of which have earned her an MBE.
Undeterred at 88, Shirley has promised the Eastbourne Airborne Show to re-walk her wing walk in 2024 at 91 years of age, becoming the oldest woman in the world to do it. This is conditional on the funds raised that day going to ESAB. Only 3 years to go Shirley and the folks of Bodle Street will be watching the skies to cheer you on!