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Thursday 8 December 2016

87-year-old flies on longest and fastest zipwire for ShelterBox charity

Published 15/11/2016 | 12:06

Alison Midwood, 87, with granddaughter Alice Jefferson before she is harnessed to the zipwire to fly over Cornwall's Eden Project (ShelterBox/PA)
Alison Midwood, 87, with granddaughter Alice Jefferson before she is harnessed to the zipwire to fly over Cornwall's Eden Project (ShelterBox/PA)
Alison Midwood, 87, will fly over Cornwall's Eden Project to raise money for ShelterBox on England's longest and fastest zipwire (ShelterBox/PA)

A daredevil grandmother has taken on England's longest and fastest zipwire for charity.

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Alison Midwood, 87, who is known as Granny Bin, flew over Cornwall's Eden Project on Saturday to raise money for ShelterBox.

She was suspended on a 660-metre (2,165ft) zipwire above the famous biomes and travelled at up to 60mph - despite never having been on one before and not being in the best of health.

Mrs Midwood, who was called Binnie as a youngster after a great aunt Albinia, has a family connection with the Cornwall-based international disaster relief agency ShelterBox.

Her granddaughter Alice Jefferson is a member of the charity's operations team and has just returned from deployment in Iraq preparing to help the people of Mosul.

Ms Jefferson, who flew alongside her grandmother on a parallel wire, said: "Helping an 87-year-old into the 'press-up position' is no mean feat.

"Whilst hanging there Granny said, just as her medication alarm started going off, 'the doctor told me that I have to lie down three times a day. So this counts as one of those three doesn't it?'

"It all went better than we could have ever hoped for. She absolutely loved it. No nerves at all. I was pleased to have made it back from Iraq just in time. It's not every day that your Gran does something this bonkers."

Some rather shocked onlookers - not expecting to have just seen an octogenarian whizzing past - asked Mrs Midwood what was next and she replied: "Well I don't know. It'd be really quite good to go to the moon though, don't you think?"

The old leather flying hat and goggles she wore for the zipwire challenge belonged to her late husband Harry Midwood, who was a Tiger Moth pilot in the 1950s.

Ms Jefferson said: "She hung her flying hat up many years ago after the birth of her four sons and was well known as a village fundraiser. An infamous cake baker that was usually found organising village pumpkin fairs in the Cotswolds and helping with the village pond committee.

"Grandpa Harry would have been very proud. He was an early aeronautical engineer at the end of World War Two. He began working as an aero-engineer apprentice at the research establishment in Farnborough before moving on to working on rockets for early space research.

"Maybe his early work can help her get to the moon."

Mrs Midwood, who lives near Liskeard, Cornwall has already beaten her £500 target for charity.

Press Association

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