Ian Stevens prepares for his attempt at the Birdman competition.
THE VIEW FROM HERE CONGRATULATIONS to Ian Stevens for his superb fundraising effort on behalf of St Catherine’s School, Ventnor, a residential centre for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs.
Nothing so boring as a sponsored walk or getting his hair cut off. These things are now really quite passe in the charity world and fundraisers are having to look for ever more exciting initiatives to get the moolah rolling in.
Ian decided the best thing to do was to jump off Worthing Pier. Well, it’s undeniably different, Ian. And certainly quicker than having your hair shorn. Did it just seem a good idea at the time or what?
Oh, you were taking part in the Worthing International Birdman competition? Ah, now we get it. One of those events that make this country the great nation that it is.
Winston Churchill, the Spanish Armada, William Shakespeare, the Battle of Trafalgar, our glorious monarchy, the conquest of Everest — I could go on but surely the pinnacle of British supremacy must surely be the Worthing International Birdman competition.
And how marvellous the Island should be represented this year among all those courageous men and women who compete in this event, not just for the glory of winning a prize of £10,000 on offer for any birdman who achieves 100 metres in a human-powered flying machine but for the sheer emotional consummation that can be achieved only by falling into the sea off Worthing Pier, preferably in fancy dress.
Ian, in full Magnificent-Men costume, designed by the young people of St Catherine’s and complete with leather flying jacket and false moustache, was certainly up there with the best of them.
His rival birdmen included somebody called Wenning Meech (with a name like that, jumping off Worthing Pier is simply a natural progression along the path of eccentricity) who was dressed as a starfish (also including seagulls) and a team who chose to sit in Santa’s sleigh as they fell off the pier and plopped into the waves.
The overall competition was won by Ron Freeman, who fluttered an impressive 86.7 metres in his Geordie Flyer.
Ron lives in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland. That probably gives him an unfair advantage. You only have to wave your arms in windy old Northumberland and you’re flying. I don’t suppose the residents of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea ever have their feet on the ground.
How did the Island do in the face of Ron and his Geordie Flyer? Did Ian set the standard for Islanders who can lurch around in the air for a while before plonking into the sea? I’ll say he did. He managed "about four metres". That’s fantastic for a first effort, Ian. Regard it as a trial run.
Tell the technology teacher, Ian Rees, who helped you with your polystyrene plane, the design needs a tiny bit of tweaking before you try again next year. I’m sure between the two of you, the Birdman title is within your grasp, bringing glory to the Island and seeing off that Ron Freeman.
Think of yourself as the Usain Bolt of the skies. He could easily do 86.7 metres in less than eight seconds. Surely you can flap around over the briny for that long, can’t you?
In the meantime, anyone who would like to support the excellent St Catherine’s School by sponsoring Ian and his flying machine, can contact Hannah Davison on 01983 852722 or e-mail hannah@stcatherines.
A little mutual respect in the health service is worth a try
THERE are many excellent aspects of the NHS for which we should be extremely grateful. But there are also examples of shoddy standards of cleanliness and nursing, too many managers, failures of communication, operations cancelled, wards closed.
However, we should also remember that if the NHS has a duty towards its patients, there is also an obligation on those who use its services.
It was recently revealed that one in ten health appointments (including 5.5million hospital appointments) were missed last year, costing the NHS millions of pounds.
Missed outpatient appointments alone are estimated to cost NHS hospitals around £600 million a year.
There is no reason to suppose patients on the IW are any more conscientious than those elsewhere and if our health services sometimes fail to come up to scratch, patients are no less at fault.
And, of course, for every patient who fails to keep an appointment, there’s one who is wasting the doctor’s time and money with some footling complaint or ridiculous demand for antibiotics for a child who has a slight sniffle.
Perhaps patients and health services could strike a deal. More basic care and kindness on the part of the medics, less thoughtlessness and stupidity on the part of the patient. Mutual respect, in other words. Worth a try, isn’t it?