Great leap for 91st birthday
MARGARET Walton grabs life with both hands and squeezes it for all it’s worth.
The Tweed Heads West resident may have turned 91 on Tuesday, but feels – and acts – like she’s still 21.
Ms Walton celebrated her birthday with a casual trip to Gold Coast Skydive.
She originally planned to take the plunge for her 85th birthday but was thwarted when her doctor – who she needed written approval from – went on leave.
Six years on, he still gave her the go-ahead.
“It was a cracker day,” MsWalton said.
“I’m perfectly fit so it was no problem.”
Ms Walton said she hadn’t even told her sons about the jump and planned to drop the big news by sending them a photo.
That’s if they haven’t already seen her in the media.
During her interview with the Tweed Daily News, a journalist from the Daily Mail phoned her and that night she was on Channel 10’s The Project.
Ms Walton said her nephew had offered her a skydiving experience in 2000, but she wasn’t ready.
“I wasn’t game,” she said.
But her attitude had since changed.
“Now that I’m 91, I know that I might not see my next birthday,” she said.
“Life is for living.”
She said the biggest challenge was getting out of the plane, but a gentle nudge from skydiving instructor Wayne Bishop didn’t hurt.
Mr Bishop, who took a 12-year-old skydiving the day before he took Margaret, said it was great to see people of all ages show their adventurous spirit.
He said Ms Walton expressed no fear throughout the experience.
“She had a grin on her face from the office, to the flight, up to the free fall,” he said. “There was no time she was frightened.”
Margaret was just the latest Tweed resident to celebrate their prime age with this adrenaline- pumping experience.
Murwillumbah’s George Anderson went skydiving at Tyagarah in March last year for his 90th and Banora Point resident Pat Tate did the same for her 80th.
“I think they realise that life is about experiences,” Mr Bishop said.
“To control the fear within you and not let that hold you back from an experience that may be life-changing.
“ It’s one of those rare events that causes people to live 100% in the moment.
“When you’re sitting on the edge of the plane, I guarantee you’re not thinking about what you did five minutes ago and you’re not thinking about what will happen in five minutes.
“I think that’s one of the most powerful things.”
While he advises mature skydivers seek a doctor’s permission before skydiving, Mr Bishop encouraged living life to the fullest.
“I’m just rapt that someone of her maturity still wants to get out there and see what the world’s got.”
Despite her knee reconstructions causing difficulty on landing (“I’ve got metal knees and they got stuck in the sand!”), MsWalton said she enjoyed the experience “very much” and hoped her great leap would inspire others to take the plunge.