»90-year-old Betty tackles 170ft abseil
ABSEILING 90-year-old Betty Bromage bravely negotiated the 170ft drop from one of Gloucestershire’s tallest buildings and then said she needed a “good gin and tonic”.
Cheered on by hundreds of wellwishers, the plucky grandmother-oftwo, whose motto is “wear out, don’t rust out,” went down the outside of the Eagle Tower in the centre of Cheltenham.
It completed a trio of adrenalinefuelled fundraising challenges she had set herself to mark her milestone birthday year.
As applause filled the air, the nonagenarian, who lives at Abbeyfield House just a short walk from the 1960s-built office block, smiled broadly and said: “That was fantastic. A really wonderful experience. But what I need now is a really good gin and tonic.”
Mrs Bromage was the first of scores of brave souls to make their way down Eagle Tower as part of a biennial charity abseil hosted by CCP (Caring for Communities and People).
It brought to a close an astonishing year of audacious self-imposed birthday challenges for the former nurse, who 20 years ago suffered a life-changing back injury and still needs to use a walker after undergoing spinal surgery.
In April she tackled her fourth dizzying wing walk in as many years, and in May reached speeds of 100mph as she took on the world’s fastest and Europe’s longest zip line in North Wales.
Along the way, she has defied ageist stereotypes and helped raise more than £5,000 towards the £10,000 needed to build a new summerhouse and wheelchair-friendly community garden at the Abbeyfield Gloucestershire home she moved to five years ago.
She rates the abseil as one of the best things she has done but is pushing herself to even greater heights in 2020 by taking on a parachute jump as well as her fifth wing walk.
“It was hard work, much harder than I thought it was going to be. My arms and legs are aching, and I was twisting all the way down so didn’t get a chance to appreciate the view over Cheltenham,” she said.
Asked if she had been scared about taking on the heart-stopping descent, she added: “No, not at all. You just get on with things, don’t you? I have great faith in other people, and the safety crew said I was the calmest and coolest person they had ever had.
“I think everyone else was more worried about me doing the abseil than I was. The most difficult part was making my way on to the roof. I’m not so mobile these days and I had to take my walking stick up with me.”
She added: “Too many people see retirement as the end. But it’s not, it’s a doorway leading to new openings. People my age should be doing more adventurous things.”
Until May 2018 Mrs Bromage held the title of the UK’S oldest female wing walker when she lost out to a 91-yearold from Hampshire.