By Hollie Bone
A wheelchair-bound grandmother with Multiple Sclerosis who SKYDIVES at least once a week said her free-falling hobby is the only thing that stops her pain.
Unlikely thrill seeker Glen Mills, 85, has lived with her debilitating diagnosis for more than 50 years but refuses to let it define her – instead taking on a series of adrenaline-fuelled activities including hang gliding, abseiling, zip wires and indoor skydiving.
Since she started skydiving three years ago, Glen, from Glossop, Derbs, has become so close with staff at Manchester’s iFly indoor skydiving centre she has been invited to dive in the Paris and Abu Dhabi branches and has already completed dives in Prague and Poland.
The gran-of-six, who is unable to walk, said the ‘euphoric’ feeling of being in the wind tunnel is the only thing which gives her respite from the pain of her condition.
Glen said: “The first time I realised I was flying on my own, it suddenly struck me that I couldn’t feel any pain because I was completely weightless.
“I felt like I was completely free, it was almost like a state of euphoria. I felt like I could have flown out of there and all the way home. You don’t have to suffer when you’re in there.
“I can do things in the tunnel that I never thought I would be able to do.”
When the mum-of-two isn’t riding the rush in a wind tunnel, she is forced to get around in a wheelchair and relies on her husband and ‘lifeline’, Brian, for support.
Glen lives by her motto ‘age is nothing, attitude is everything’ and despite receiving the MS diagnosis in her late 30s, the determined 85-year-old has completed a 100mph zip wires in Wales, and flown hundreds of feet in the air above Fort Langley, BC, Canada, in a tandem hang glider.
But Glen still remembers the day doctors told her she had the lifelong condition, which affects a person’s vision, mobility and energy levels.
Glen said: “I never walk outside, even to the car on my own because I’d be straight down on the floor.
“I have been in plaster more than once. Last time it was my leg and I couldn’t accept the fact that I’d broken it, I just walked on it for a week until one day I woke up and my foot was purple.
“Then I finally accepted I might have done something to it after all.
“When I was diagnosed I remember I could hear them talking.
“I heard them say ‘there’s another poor soul that has to be told that she’s got it’.”
Brian and Glen, who are retired company directors, have made it their mission not to let Glen’s condition affect daughters Sian and Anna and their six grandchildren, saying ‘as a family we have always laughed about it’.
In fact it was their eldest daughter who helped Glen discover her love for skydiving, when she bought her parents passes to go to the iFly centre at Trafford Park.
Since then, Brian and Glen have become inclusivity ambassadors at the centre, encouraging other people with disabilities, conditions and impairments to try skydiving and the staff even threw Glen a birthday party when she turned 85 last month.
Glen said: “I watched them in the wind tunnel and I thought I might not be able to do it but I’m going to have a damn good try.
“They took my wheelchair inside and I sat in the open doorway where you walk into the airflow.
“As soon as the air hit my face I was hooked.”