Photographer’s birthday snap is set to take its place among nation’s finest

Sue Bartlett celebrating her 90th birthday with a sky dive

Sue Bartlett celebrating her 90th birthday with a sky dive - Credit: Celia Bartlett

A picture of her 90-year-old mother-in-law on a sky dive has won photographer Celia Bartlett a national honour.

Celia, from Saffron Walden, has been shortlisted in the British Journal of Photography's Portrait of Britain Awards.

The top 100 pictures will be displayed on billboards nationally (on JC Deceaux billboards). Celia's picture, just outside that list, will be in the Portrait of Britain book (volume 2), to be launched in London on September 12.

She said: "Last year, my mother-in-law, Sue, had said how she wanted to celebrate her 90th birthday, in April this year.

She said: 'I don't want to spend my birthday with old people.'

"She had mentioned to relatives how she always fancied doing a skydive. We looked into whether it would be feasable, knowing that medical approval would be required (having gone through the process myself, when I did a skydive in 2014). We thought it might be rather risky. However, my husband, Keith decided that we could see how she would cope by taking her on Zip World Velocity 2, the fastest zip line in the world at Penrhyn Slate Quarry, in North Wales.

"She loved it! She refused to take off the security wrist band until she had returned home to show everyone in her sheltered housing complex in Saffron Walden, what she had been up to.

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Unfortunately, the jarring stop at the end of the wire had caused her some back discomfort, resulting in a number of visits for chiropractic treatment.

We realised then that a tandem parachute jump wouldn't be a very clever idea but thought the indoor skydiving facility at iFly in Milton Keynes might be a perfect substitute.

"Afterall, she would only have to say 'stop' if it all got too much, something she couldn't do mid-jump.

"We booked it for her birthday with the staff at iFly aware of the significance of the day.

"On arrival, she was offered a super-hero flying suit, rather than the standard suit (although we aren't sure she recognised the status).

"She was among a group of people, all much younger, some clearly exhibiting nerves, which she had no apparent signs of.

With a last check of the helmet and goggles, Keith flicked the thumbs up, to which she responded with her thumbs up, and I captured the shot.

"She loved every minute."