Patsy Kettle – a retired vicar and former teacher from Surrey – decided to celebrate her 80th birthday with an indoor skydive raising thousands for MAF’s 7&5 Campaign. The thrill seeker is no stranger to an adrenaline rush, having already raced a Ferrari and Lamborghini on a previous birthday. Patsy recounts her latest feat and why she’s supporting MAF…
On 12 November, Patsy Kettle celebrated her 80th birthday at iFLY Indoor Skydiving centre in Milton Keynes with her first ever skydive, raising over £4,000 for MAF’s 7&5 Campaign.
The unusual gift was presented to Patsy on her actual birthday back in May by her nephew, Luke, who hoped to emulate the same excitement Patsy experienced three years ago when she got behind the wheel of a Ferrari and a Lamborghini.
Reminiscing about her laps around Dunsfold Aerodrome in 2018 – the test track used by BBC’s Top Gear – Pasty recalls:
‘I know 110 miles per hour isn’t very fast really, but I put my foot down as hard as I could – it was wonderful! This skydive however, is so different and exciting.’
For her latest thrill, Patsy was accompanied by members of her family. Her sister, Vicki, brother-in-law, Balogun, and niece, Esther, all did a skydive of their own on the day.
‘MAF is the charity for me!’
Fortunately, Patsy had the foresight to use her unusual birthday celebration as a personal fundraiser, but for which charity? It had to be MAF:
‘I thought I really ought to get sponsored, but for which charity as a lot of them lost money during Covid?
‘I think God had a hand in it – through the post in the next couple of days, along came some MAF literature which said they were flying Covid vaccines to out of the way places that their little aeroplanes can reach.
‘They also fly medical and school supplies, building materials and food to people all over the world who can’t access these things easily.
‘It’s a flying charity and I’m going to do some flying, so MAF is the charity for me!’
Patsy Kettle, thrill seeker and MAF fundraiser
Patsy – an aviation enthusiast – grew up with a keen interest in aircraft in an era when, according to Patsy, ‘women didn’t race cars let alone fly planes’.
She discovered the work of MAF at teacher training college in the 1960s and has supported the charity ever since:
‘I’ve been supporting MAF and praying every day for their pilots and staff around the world for as long as I can remember. This money will help MAF deliver more vaccines and lifesaving cargo to the hardest-to-reach communities. MAF do such wonderful work.’
‘Swimming in air’
Patsy describes her latest feat:
‘It was wonderful – I loved it!
‘You’re inside what’s like a fishbowl with an instructor – people see in and you can see out. It’s pressurised air, so as soon as you step in you are horizontal. It’s as if you are swimming in air. I had some trepidation, but mainly I was quite excited.
‘The session is about a minute and a half, which sounds very short, but an actual free-fall from an aeroplane is under a minute.
‘On my second go, I put my thumb up, which meant I wanted the air to be stronger so that the instructor could take me up to the top. It’s a long way up, but I decided to have a go once I was in the right position. Your position is key to it all. Once that’s right, there’s an extra whoosh of air and gradually you go round and round and up and up.
‘I felt very windswept. It’s the nearest I’ll ever get to flying like a bird.’
Overwhelmed by support
Patsy has raised over four times her initial £1,000 target with donations still coming in:
‘I’m very touched by all of the support and so grateful to everyone. I’ve been amazed how people have responded – my church is right behind me and they have been very generous. I’m well pleased.
‘The money will help communities living in isolation – they will receive some of the essentials they need to survive. MAF is well worth supporting.’
Patsy trained for the Church of England priesthood and went on to become one of the first women to be ordained as a deacon in 1987, then as a priest in 1994. Patsy joined St Mary’s Church in Worthing before serving as a chaplain at Cambridge University offering pastoral care to students.
She then moved to Woking where she met her late husband, Richard. Patsy retired in 2001 to care for her husband who died in 2008, but has remained very active into her 80s. Now a member of Wonersh Church in Surrey, Patsy still organises events, takes funerals and conducts services. She is a keen gardener and bird watcher and lives with her beloved dog, Zanzi – a flat-coated retriever.
You can still support Patsy here
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