Rich Scott paid us a visit from Canada, which was a delight, and he managed to get his solo jump number 499 or 500 if you include his tandem jump! Just for fun, when he got back to Canada he did get the solo 500th in as a 2-way FS with his original AFF instructor at Grand Bend.

A goodly number turned up for the usual shenanigans at this year’s Christmas Bash. A very pleasant evening it turned out to be too. No one could remember what they ordered and even though there was a list Handsome Dan was on hand to assist the poor bewildered staff. Having gotten through the meal we moved on to the highlight of the evening, Buzz’s speech. In a change from the usual tradition, he wasn’t totally hammered before he began (that’s what he said anyway).

The awards this year went as follows: Student of the Year, Tommy Pinnington; Club Member of the Year, Suzie Whitehurst; Jump Hog, Steve Pugh; Bum Spot, Wilko; Brexit Award, Vero Sanz. Wilko’s was the funniest and Vero’s the saddest. Vero has been packing for us and jumping with us for a while now and so we were all saddened that her time with us had come to an end and she was heading home to Spain.

Apart from all this, there have been a number of Tilly jumpers having some fun and games of late. A group took a trip to Skydive Algarve for the Christmas Boogie where Gareth Woods excelled himself in the millinery department. We’re all very sorry to have to say goodbye to his acclaimed headgear and we’re grateful to Steve Pugh for the video evidence.

Dave Gordon went much further to get some jumps in the sun, the other side of the world, New Zealand, where he’s still having a wonderful time and quite an adventure. We’re not at all jealous, honest…

Some managed to stay in this country and still get some interesting jumps in by taking a trip over to Langar to take part in the night jumps. They all had a great time and have been buzzing about it since. More importantly they didn’t break themselves in doing so – well done, children of the night!

Before Christmas we also managed to produce two new CSIs, Henna Niutanen (who technically is at Cark now, but we still claim her as one of ours as she got CSBI with us before moving north) and this odd Windon bloke who both went to Hibaldstow and came back qualified to be let loose on their own with student skydivers.

I leave the last word to the Management for a summary of our year: As we come to the end of the year, Kat and Buzz just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped make this year, despite the weather, the best we have ever had. Thanks to  everyone who makes sure jumpers and students are where they need to be, when they need to be and keep them all safe, the ladies in Manifest, the TIs (near and far!), cameraflyers, CSIs, pilots and not forgetting the club members who help out driving, catching tandems and generally making themselves useful, Ben Gilmore, the best DZ gopher we could ask for, and Vicky Thomas for slaving away in the kitchen with her team.

We are very impressed by all the students that have progressed so well in 2019, having completed 308 student descents this year, the most we have ever done by a long shot. This has been achieved in no small part by the dedication and enthusiasm of the CSIs who are continually hassling me to get students up as soon as it’s suitable. We have also completed 1,381 tandems – not only the most we have ever done, but also without incident or injury, a testament to the professionalism, skill and experience of all the TIs at Tilly, thank you.

Congratulations to the Tilstock Tumbling Turkeys who won gold in the UKSL Rookie class and got to collect their trophies at the British Skydiving Expo.

The Rainbow Boogie was a great success (even though the weather didn’t play ball for the whole event) and we will be running it again next year between May 7 and 9, with a Caravan in for the three days and a helicopter in for the Friday and Saturday for  those who are B Licence and above.

Finally thank you to all the club jumpers who make Tilly such a great place to be for everyone, I am regularly told by visiting jumpers that Tilly is one of the friendliest DZs they have visited.

Gary Windon

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Photo: Dave Titcombe and Gary Windon playing peek a boo by Dave Major