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How I reached the skies for GOAL – and survived!


June 8, 2021 • 3 min read

82-year-old Dubliner, Eddie Collins, who has lived in the UK for over 50 years, has successfully completed a Wing Walk to raise more than £8,500 for GOAL. Here he recounts a day that he will never forget.

Anxiety. Terror. Adrenalin rush. Calm.

These words sum up the mix of emotions I felt as I fulfilled my ambition to “reach for the skies” and do my first ever Wing Walk to raise funds for GOAL.

I am an 82-year-old Dubliner who has been living in the UK for over 50 years. I wanted to do a Wing Walk to support the inspiring work of GOAL who are changing the lives of millions of vulnerable people in over fourteen countries all over the world.

As well as raising funds for GOAL I wanted to tick off a challenge on my bucket list. I have always had a love and fascination for biplanes. And a Wing Walk was something I was determined to do.

When I decided on this challenge, my family, friends, and ex business colleagues rallied around. They were all incredibly supportive, and the word quickly spread that I was to get into full flight for GOAL by walking on a Boeing Super Sherman Biplane.

I set myself a target of raising £5,000 – and once the fundraising page was set up donations started to roll in.

There was the minor matter of getting the go ahead from my heart specialist, Professor Nicholas Peters in London, who assured me that my pacemaker would easily cope with the pressures of the challenge! How right he was.

The big day arrived (Wednesday June 3rd) and while a lot of it is a blur, it’s a day I will never forget.

Family and friends started to arrive to support me at the airfield in Gloucester. I was feeling anxious. Excited, but in fear.

There was a briefing which included how to signal the pilot at nine thousand feet. Travelling at 150 miles per hour I wanted to be sure I would return to earth!

At any age, getting on the wing of a plane is a test on all the bodies muscles. When the biplane hurtled down the grassy runway, I experienced a bone shaking like I have never experienced in my life before. I can safely say every bit of me rattled as we trundled along.

The thought “what have I let myself in for?” was foremost in my mind.

I started to calm as the biplane lifted off, and we were quickly up to 150 miles per hour. It was exhilarating as I felt the pressure of the wind on my face.

Any fear I had was overtaken by the breath-taking views of the countryside below as we made left and right turns, did steep climbs and nose downs at speeds of up to 190 miles per hour.

It was all over in a flash. And when I eventually got back to earth it was wonderful to be greeted by family, friends and supporters.

(left to right) my daughter Carolyn McCall, family friend Kathy Murphy, my son Joe Collins and family friends Claire McCarthy and her son Joe.

I have to let you all in on a secret! Before I took to the skies my daughter, Jackie, presented me with an inscribed hip flask for the occasion. It was filled with Dubliner Whiskey, a few swigs which I found to be spiritually uplifting on the flight!

It was Jackie who first connected me to GOAL’s work through her contact with the Country Director of GOAL in Zimbabwe, Gabriella Prandini.

I am blown away by the generosity of those who contributed. So far, I have exceeded my target of £5,000 with £8,500 donated from all over the world including Saudi Arabia, China, Tanzania, Malaysia, Portugal, Zimbabwe and of course Ireland and the UK.

My fundraising page is still open and I would appreciate your support;

Wouldn’t it be brilliant if I doubled my original target to raise £10,000 for GOAL!