»90-year-old Betty tack­les 170ft ab­seil

Gloucestershire Echo - - FRONT PAGE - Robin JENK­INS robin.jenk­[email protected]­plc.com

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.

Pic­ture: Nick Par­ford Photograph­y

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