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Thrill-seeking pensioner raises thousands through charity wing walk

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77-year-old said being strapped to a plane 1,000 feet above ground was 'exhilarating'

Thrillseeker Gill Hails has raised more than £4,000 for charity by flying 1,000 feet above ground strapped to the wings of a plane.

The 77-year-old adrenaline junkie from Wash Common said she wanted to do something to ‘challenge herself’ before she reached 80.

Mrs Hails also wanted to help raise money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance – a charity she has supported for many years.

Mrs Hails recently set off from Rendcomb Airfield near Cirencester and, strapped into a seat on the top wing of one of their Boeing Stearman biplanes, she flew above The Cotswolds.

Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, Mrs Hails said: “It was an amazing experience.

“I’ve never felt so exhilarated in my 77 years. I would recommend it to anyone.

“It was beautiful.

“Although it was quite cloudy, you could see all the way across the Cotswolds.”

It is not the first time Mrs Hails has taken part in a hair-raising adventure.

She has also flown a glider, been rescued from the sea by a helicopter crew for training purposes and scree-ran in the mountains of Scotland.

She joked that her friends and family “now think I am in my second childhood”.

Mrs Hails originally set herself a target of raising £750 – the minimum amount required to take part in the wing walk.

But she has now raised more than five times that amount and said she’s been blown away by people’s generosity.

She said: “We upped it to £1,500, then £3,000 and now it’s over £4,000.

“I honestly didn't expect to raise that much. I was worried I wouldn’t get to the £750.

“Neighbours, family, friends and even strangers have been so generous and I want to say a big thank you to them.

“The Thames Valley Air Ambulance is such a great charity.

“All their funds come from donations, so anything we can do to help is really vital for them to keep giving their excellent service to the community.

“I think if you’re fit and healthy, then challenge yourself and try and do something for these charities that are so in need.”

In her youth, Mrs Hails was in the Women’s Royal Naval Service for 11 years and served in Malta, Singapore, Mauritius and Scotland.

She moved to Wash Common 17 years ago, where she lives with her husband, a former ex-Royal Navy pilot.

Mrs Hails, who goes to the gym three times a week, said she was now “going to have a few years off” before her next challenge.

If you would like to make a donation and add to her fundraising total, visit www.justgiving.com/ Gill-Hails

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