Wed, 06 Jun 2018
LEGENDARY British plasterer-turned-ski jumper Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards is coming to West Berkshire next week to present the district council’s Learner Achievement Awards.
Edwards, whose first name is Michael, shot to national and international fame after representing Britain at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.
He is also a successful adult learner, having gained a law degree from De Montfort University, Leicester, in 2003.
On Friday, June 8, he will present awards to adults who have excelled after going back into education.
The awards include those who have completed apprenticeships, professional, academic and vocational courses or been involved in learning programmes to support families, communities and health and wellbeing.
The presentation evening begins at 6.30pm at Shaw House, Newbury.
West Berkshire Council executive member for education Lynne Doherty said: “We are delighted that Eddie will be presenting this year’s awards.
“He is an icon for determination and was a mature student.
“Our learners often achieve in the face of adversity, juggling busy lives in order to learn and progress.
“I’m sure that Eddie will provide inspiration to this year’s winners and also to those who are working hard to learn in spite of many commitments and difficulties.”
Despite finishing last in the 70m and 90m events, Edwards – the then holder of the British ski jumping record – became famous for personifying the Olympic spirit through his heroic efforts.
Shortly after the 1988 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee strengthened the entry requirements to make it impossible for anyone to follow his example, in what became known as the ‘Eddie The Eagle Rule’.
His path to fame was far from smooth. Edwards had to wear six pairs of socks to make the boots fit.
He was also disadvantaged by his weight— about 82kg (181lb), more than 9 kg (20 lb) heavier than the next heaviest competitor – and by his lack of financial support for training, being totally self-funded.
Due to being farsighted, he also had to wear thick glasses under his goggles, which would mist up at altitude.
He was also lauded for his determination to represent his country without any form of funding.
His self-belief, resilience and sheer determination bagged him several achievements, including being the world record holder for a stunt which saw him jump over six buses.
Eddie the Eagle, a film about his life, starring Taron Egerton as Eddie and Hugh Jackman as his trainer, was released in 2016.