Three daredevil souls from the garden retail industry have just days to overcome their fears before taking to the skies for an adrenaline-fuelled wing walk in aid of the Greenfingers Charity.
The wingwalk, which had been due to take place earlier this month, was postponed after a technical glitch grounded the plane. With a new venue and aircraft secured, the trio plan to get airborne on Saturday, 29 June, in a bid to raise £15,000 for the charity.
The delay led to a nerve-wracking wait for GIMA director Vicky Nuttall, SBM LifeScience’s Lowri Walker and Evergreen Garden Care’s Mark Portman – but all three have vowed to take to the skies and raise vital funds for Greenfingers, the charity that builds magical gardens at children’s hospices across the UK.
More than £7,560 has already been pledged by 126 supporters, and the wing walkers have appealed to the industry to back their stunt and smash through the £15,000 target.
Taking care of the daredevils on Saturday will be expert pilots at AeroSuperBatics, the team behind the Breitling Wingwalkers, a much-loved display act at UK airshows. On arrival at RFC Rendcomb Airfield in the Cotswolds, Vicky, Lowri and Mark will be briefed before being strapped to the top wing of a Boeing Stearman biplane, built in the 1940s and used by American forces to train pilots during World War Two.
Wing walkers will then experience the roar of the plane’s 450hp Pratt & Whitney engine – the largest and most powerful engine operated in the UK for wing walking – with the propeller hitting speeds of up to 760mph at full throttle! Once the flight is underway, wingwalkers will only be able to communicate with their pilot via hand signals, as the plane performs daredevil flypasts, zoom climbs, steep dives and banks in front of friends and family. Greenfingers supporters are welcome to come along on the day, too.
GIMA’s Vicky Nuttall, a self-confessed “anti-adrenaline junkie,” said: “I won’t lie, I’m terrified of the prospect of the wing walk, but also incredibly excited. I’ve no doubt it’s going to be an afternoon to remember! But no matter how scared I am, I’ll just have to remind myself why I’m doing this. You can’t put a price on what Greenfingers does, so being able to contribute something means a great deal.”
Evergreen’s Mark Portman, who admitted he is neither a fan of heights or roller coasters, added: “Greenfingers is a wonderful charity that does lots of positive work at a local level. It is this personal touch that I find so engaging about the charity, and why I am so proud to be able to support it. I hope that my efforts can go some way in assisting the Greenfingers Charity to continue their work both now, and long into the future.”
SBM’s Lowri Walker, who completed a skydive in aid of Greenfingers and Rugby for Heroes several years ago, said: “Nerves kick in every time I think ahead to this, for me this will be one hell of a personal challenge and certainly something which will need a lot of mind over matter!” But she added: “Greenfingers is a truly wonderful and worthwhile charity and it’s not surprising our industry supports it in the way it does.”
On its website, AeroSuperBatics reassures wing walkers: “It will be the most thrilling thing you have ever done. Once you get over your nerves and are strapped in, the excitement will overtake the fear.”
Anyone wanting to donate can do so by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gima-wing-walkers