Funeral director Sandra's death-defying wing walk

Joseph Bulmer

A thrill-seeking Torbay funeral director rode on the wings of a plane during heavy rain to support people with life-limiting illnesses.

Sandra Murphy, an Area Development Manager at Funeral Partners based in Torbay & District Funeral Service in Torquay, raised over £1,346 for Hospiscare, including Gift Aid donations, after being fastened to a Boeing Stearman biplane as it performed daring manoeuvres from 500ft over Devon.

She said: “Rain against the skin at about 100 miles per hour while at 500ft felt like razor blades, but it didn’t take away from the overwhelming joy I felt about raising money for Hospiscare.

“As a funeral director, I understand the importance of supporting people living with life-limiting illnesses, so I couldn’t be happier to go through this literal whirlwind of a ride for Hospiscare.”

Torbay & District has supported Hospiscare for over a decade, such as by giving bereavement awareness talks to the families of its service users and organising fundraising events. However, restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 made traditional activities challenging to carry out.

Being no stranger to skydiving, Sandra decided to take her thrill-seeking to the next level and raise funds with the Covid-secure wing walk from Dunkeswell Airfield.

Sandra lost three stone in preparation for the wing walk and received overwhelming support from the local community, including donations from Torquay Crematorium, Barton Bouquets, CCG Contractors and the families served by Torbay & District, to exceed her £1,000 target.

She described the 'walk': “It was all very surreal, and even peaceful until I started turning sideways and vertically. But with my family watching below, I put on a brave face!”

Martin Stokke, Events Fundraiser at Hospiscare, said: “Sandra wanted to make a real difference to the lives of local people, whilst taking on the challenge of a lifetime. She didn’t disappoint! Thanks to Sandra, her colleagues at Torbay & District and everyone who supported her."

Sandra is now considering a joint wing walk with her daughter, Jade Cross, Funeral Arranger at Maunders Funeral Service in Paignton.

Sandra said: “Jade was very jealous of my wing walk, so we’ll have to plan a mother-daughter fundraiser soon.”