The dates on the links below are when the updates to my autobiography / health diary
were completed. The updates usually cover the time period since the previous one.
There is overlap in what I wrote, as the health diary updates were originally written
for a different site than this one. There are some specific topics which are named
rather than dated, and these have been put in approximately when I was doing them
/ they occurred.
As most of you know I am always up to something crazy to raise money for my favourite
MS Charity, MS-UK (formerly The MSRC)
Well this year, on Sunday the 3rd of April 2005, I'm doing a tandem hang glide!!!
Not only that, for my own personal marathon challenge we will attempt to reach a
height of 2620 feet (the equivalent to the 26.2 miles ran in a marathon)!
It is going to be quite a RIDE, and yes, I am nervous!!! I've been reassured I don't
need my legs much, but have also been advised not to eat much breakfast as it can
get pretty gusty up there!
Wish me luck! Hopefully I'll be letting you know how I get on!
September 12, 2005
Achieving my hang gliding dream
On the evening of Wednesday the 13th of April, 2005, I achieved my hang gliding dream!
At last the weather was perfect with very little wind so we went for it!!!
At 7 pm
I had a chat with Stewart Bond, my instructor at the Icarus School of Hang Gliding.
Then, next minute, I was getting kitted up! First I had to put on a lovely warm body
suit, and then fit my way into the harness, which is a very snug fit....you have
to make sure your head and limbs fit through all the right holes. It was quite daunting.
By the end I felt like the Michellin man!
Next, after a quick briefing, we travelled by car across the airfield to the hang
Getting into that way not easy either, and then I hung there a bit like a fish on
hook- but the good news is that I felt very secure! They decided to tie my legs together
too for extra security (My partner Steve called this altitude bondage!!!).
Most people manage to cross them and keep them crossed but it was a safer bet for
me to do it this way. Even paraplegics can hang glide you know. In that case their
legs are simply tied to those of the instructor!
Stewart took up his position in the harness and I put on some warm gloves. Stewart
was hanging just below me and I was instructed to put my right arm around his back
and hold onto his shoulder strap, and my left hand was to hold onto his wrist. Stewart
then realised that, in order for him to be able to press the remote control button
to activate the camera located on the far left wing of the hang glide, he was going
to have to sacrifice his gloves!!! The brave man!
The hang glide was attached to a microlight plane by a cord and the plan was that
this small plane was to tow us up to the height we were aiming for (2620 ft) and
then release us.
Next minute we were off and within seconds we lifted off the ground.
The strange thing was that it felt so natural. I wasn't nervous. I just enjoyed the
thrill of it as we rose higher and higher.
The views of Huddersfield and the countryside
surrounding it, the tiny airfield, the tiny fields, the spots that were cows, sheep
and trees, were spectacular! I could not stop grinning and chatting to Stewart over
the loud humming of the microlight. I was also surprised by how smooth the flight
was. We were very lucky with the low winds that evening!
As we rose higher and higher
it did get colder and colder (particularly my feet) but that did not bother me, the
views were so glorious! I did try to cover Stewart's left hand with my gloved hand
to protect him from the chill up there, and this did help him a little- but he took
the cold like a man!
Then, after a signal from the mircrolight pilot, indicating we
had reached our target of 2 620ft, I ducked my head, as the chord attaching us to
the plane was released...and then there was complete silence. It was so peaceful!
We were just flying through the air like a bird! The experience was like a dream!
Stewart wanted to then take a few still shots of us using the remote, but unfortunately,
when we turned to look towards the camera, we found that the wind had blown it off
course, so it was no longer pointed at us. So poor Stewart had frozen his hands for
nothing. I think they call that sods law. I didn't mind too much because I knew I'd
remember this experience and the views for the rest of my life! The streetlights
were now just coming on in Huddersfield as it was getting to dusk and it was most
Next, Stewart asked me if I'd like to try steering the hang glide. To
do this you had to push on the bar, either on the left hand side to go left or on
the right hand side to go right. I had a go but my attempt was pretty feeble. As I
was above Stewart steering required that I apply even more pressure to the bar. I
steered a little and it was fun to try anyway!
Then I agreed with Stewart that we
should do some acrobatics. This involved pushing the bar forward and then we were
plunged into a freefall dive and we swirled about at angles of up to 90 degree! Though
very disorienting (I was convinced we had gone upside-down several times!) I enjoyed
this totally mad experience. Some people would hate it but I loved it. It was very
In doing these stunt we lost a lot of height very quickly and before I knew
it the ground was getting closer and closer. Stewart steered us beautifully towards
and onto the runway and told me to look up as we touched down, as the ground would
rush up upon us. I looked up, held my breath and we landed perfectly safely and smoothly
but I'm glad I took his advice because the speed the ground came upon us was very
daunting. Looking down would have been very unwise!
Everyone could see just how much I'd enjoyed the experience of hang gliding and everyone
congratulated me! Stewart then dismounted and I was left hanging there, whilst folk
made a few jokes about their work being done and how they were off to the pub. But
then they took pity on me and released me.
My mobility was much improved thanks to
the cold and I felt confident about stepping over the bar to get out (I'd had help
lifting them in getting in). However my legs did not want to lift and we then all
realised that they were still tied together. We all ahead a good laugh about that.
was untied (fun this altitude bondage!) and given a hand back to the car and back
to the cabin. I was on a total high and could not stop smiling. The hang gliding
experience had lasted around 20 mins in flying time and had exceeded all my expectations!