Meet the former Southsea hotel owner who celebrated her 81st birthday with a charity wing walk

A THRILL-SEEKING former Southsea hotel owner achieved a lifelong dream when she celebrated her 81st birthday by wing walking.

Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 4:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 4:50 pm
Anne English, 81, took on a wing walk for a birthday surprise
Anne English, 81, took on a wing walk for a birthday surprise

Anne English, who ran the Annaley guesthouse in Clarendon Road before her retirement, took to the skies strapped to the top of a Boeing Stearman Biplane as a special birthday surprise.

She described her 15-minute flight over Compton Abbas airfield in Wiltshire as ‘one of the best days of my life’.

Anne said: ‘It was wonderful - everything I imagined it would be and more. During the briefing they asked if I just wanted to fly around a bit or if I wanted a bit of fun. Well, I didn’t come all this way not to have the full experience so he was dipping and banking.

Anne English, 81, took on a wing walk for a birthday surprise

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‘He did a sharp dip at one point and my feet came off the floor, but I felt so secure. I didn’t have any fears.

‘The hardest thing was getting in and out of the plane. I’m so thrilled I’ve done it. It took my breath away and I would do it again without even thinking about it.’

Anne landed to a round of applause from family who had turned out to watch, including Anne’s partner Barry Weller who had organised the hair-raising trip as a birthday surprise.

He said: ‘I knew it was something Anne had always wanted to do so I was determined to make it happen.

‘I thought she might be a bit nervous but she was dancing as the plane headed down the runway and grinning from ear to ear when it landed.’

Anne has always been adventurous and has a passion for travel. In the past she and Barry have walked the Great Wall of China, and explored many exciting destinations including the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica.

As well as celebrating her birthday and fulfilling a long-held ambition, Anne chose to raise funds for two charities.

Anne’s efforts raised £500 to be split between Battersea Dogs and Cats Home as well as local charity Second Chance Animal Rescue.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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