Meet Dilys, the world's oldest female skydiver
If I tell you that the least wonderful thing about 86 year old Dilys is that she holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s oldest sky-diver (she has done over 1,300 jumps), you might wonder what on earth I’m talking about. But read what she had to say when we talked together at the Women of the Year Lunch this week and see if you don’t agree. Oh and by the way, if you think there’s something funny about the light in this picture, she really does have pink hair, which on the day of the lunch, matched her glittery pink nails!
“I did my first sky dive when I was 54. I have a charity for special needs children and we were running out of money, so I said to my students, “what you need to do is a sky dive”. And if they were going to do it, I had to do it! I mean, I respected them all so much, I had to keep their respect. But then you see it turned out to be a win-win situation. I did it for the charity, but it’s given me such pleasure and joy.
That first sky dive was terrifying. No-one could have been more scared than me. I remember watching everyone else jump out and thinking, as I was going towards the big hole and seeing the green fields, ‘what a mistake. This is death’, and I meant it, with every single ounce of me. Then they tipped me out and the next second I thought ‘I’m flying!’ And as soon as I came down I said ‘sign me up’. I immediately wanted to do it again.
That’s why I say, ‘don’t be afraid of life. Push the boundaries’
That’s why I say don’t be afraid of life. Push the boundaries. Always push yourself to do a little bit more. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Because I was scared stiff, but we needed the money. And then sky diving became my life. And I’d have missed that if I hadn’t pushed myself to do it to help a group of children I cared passionately about.
Psychologists say sky diving is the ultimate sense of freedom and I’d certainly agree with that. Also we’re a wonderful little tribe, brought together by our love of the sport. We all help each other. There’s no rivalry between the men and the women, we all work together as a team. It’s a lovely world and I’d love to see more women do it - we still only make up 17% of sky divers. I always say to women, just do it once, it’s transforming.
We need to become generous in spirit so we don’t just survive, we serve
I do think of myself as eccentric, but I suppose I’m lucky, in that I do what I want. I have a strong sense of my own worth which has kept me going in what was a man’s world. And I want to encourage people - children, young men and women - to really know what they want, to find their passion and do that. Then of course they’re spilling over with energy and they can give that energy to others. Because if we become generous in spirit, we don’t just survive and thrive, we serve as well. As we increase our muscles for surviving, we need to build our muscles for service too.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone whose delight in life and joy about all that it offers shines more strongly in them than Dilys. Her cup isn’t just half-full, it’s overflowing. There’s a lesson there for us all, whatever age we are, don’t you think? And the reason why I said her sky-diving was the least wonderful thing about her in the intro. Do you agree now?
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