There was much excitement at Dean Close this week when Eddie the Eagle visited the School. Eddie became famous in 1988 at the Calgary Winter Olympics when represented GB in the Ski Jumping and although he came last, was jettisoned to fame for his gutsy jumping and endearing personality.

On arriving Eddie was met be a group of Sixth Formers who had arranged tea and cake ahead of his talk. He disclosed that as a young man, he had done some plastering at Dean Close School with his dad! He also joked that he could pass on the mobile numbers of Hugh Jackman and Tom Daley which he had in his phone!

After tea, Eddie presented to the School in the Bacon Theatre. He gave a very animated talk (taking ski jump positions!) telling his life story, beginning as a young boy of 13 who went on his first school ski trip. As a youngster Eddie loved a dare and would do almost anything his friends challenged him to do. It was on that trip that he attempted his first jump after they dared him to jump across a road!

As he grew older, Eddie pursued his love of skiing by spending every free moment at Gloucester Dry Ski Slopes. He then saved enough money to move to Lake Placid, New York State, where discovered ski jumping for the first time, beginning at the 10m height. Bored at the lower heights, he quickly moved up to the higher jumps in the
space of one day without any coaching assistance, something most jumpers take years to do.

Still with no financial support, Eddie knew he needed to find bigger jumps so borrowed his mother’s car and drove to a Swiss training camp where he slept rough in barns and churches and scavenged for food, sometimes eating others left-overs. His kit was old and worn out and included a helmet tied on with string which would fly off every time he jumped. Teams from other countries felt for him and donated new kit which improved his jumping, especially new goggles as he could see for the first time!

His talk could not go without mentioning his blockbuster film. When Eddie won the ITV competition ‘The Splash’ he was contacted by a producer to shoot a film chronicling his extraordinary life story which relaunched Eddie’s popularity. He told us that Robbie Williams was first picked to play him, and then Rupert Grint was cast but that did not go ahead. Finally Taron Egerton was awarded the part with the film released in 2016 to great reviews.

In finishing his talk, he said that his greatest and most important asset was his resilience. His self-belief had pushed him on when all those around him said he couldn’t do it. He advised his young listeners that if they had a dream in any sphere of life, they should go for it and not be put off by what others think.

Many hung behind after the talk to say hello, shake Eddie’s hand and most of all take a prized selfie. Eddie was
very happy to do all of these, was thoroughly entertaining and great company.