Dilys Price

Dilys Price OBE, M.Ed, B.Ed, Hon Fellow, CMU

3rd June 1932 – 9th October 2020

                                                                                                 
                                             
                                                                                                   

 

It all began twenty years ago in a skydive centre in England. The sound of laughter could be heard in the distance emanating from a lady who was surrounded by a group of skydivers, seemingly entranced by her every word.  Little did I know how much that first burst of laughter would go onto have such an incredible impact on my life, and the lives of so many others.   Fast-forward five years to 2007, and once again that familiar laughter filled the room, but this time at Skydive Swansea, which had just opened its doors for the first time. As soon as I heard her laughter and set eyes on her, I instantly remembered her from years before.  There was certainly no mistaking her for anyone else.  It was Dilys.

For most people, the sight of a tiny-framed, white haired lady of a certain age at Skydive Swansea could only mean one thing – she must be a spectator supporting a friend or family member who would be doing a tandem skydive.  But Dilys was no spectator.  The stunned expressions on people’s faces would always raise a smile when Dilys would sling her parachute over shoulder and ask how long until the next jump.  Some expressions would turn to concern when they realised that Dilys was, in fact, a solo skydiver.  You could almost hear the murmurs suggesting that ladies of this age shouldn’t be jumping: it wasn’t ‘the norm’.  But Dilys wasn’t just any normal lady; she was special for so many reasons.

For fellow skydivers at Skydive Swansea, Dilys was always a welcome sight, radiating energy and lighting up the drop zone with her presence. She made time for everyone, often seeking out nervous tandem jumpers and filling them with confidence and excitement encouraged by her passion and enthusiasm for the sport. Dilys had a magic about her, an instinctiveness to say exactly the right thing at the right time.  She treated everyone with love and kindness, and her ever-sparkling eyes would draw people to her so that she could share her passion in order to help and guide others.  We lost count how many spectators left with a booking form as a result of Dilys’s endless enthusiasm for skydiving.  We joked that she should join our staff, being in charge of customer care!  That was Dilys – she cared about everyone.

Dilys called the centre her ‘happy place’, choosing to visit even when she wasn’t jumping, usually being greeted by a mountain of cakes and endless cups of tea!  We had the privilege of working with her on a BBC production alongside Gareth Thomas and the Silver Skydivers in a bid to encourage people to take on new adventures, regardless of age.  This was a perfect opportunity for everyone to see Dilys at her best, doing what she loved.

Just before Dilys passed away, we spoke & in her own words said she was sliding down the rainbow quite joyfully & when she reached the end would fly high above our heads. What a beautiful angel she will make. We talked about how we would put a picture of her in the aircraft so that she could be with us on every skydive flight – the guardian angel of skydivers.  She loved this idea and promised to fly high and watch over us.  She will be missed by so many, but her legacy lives on.

As Dilys always said life is for living. She encouraged others to find a passion, be kind, give love, have fun, dance, never be afraid and help each other. 
For Dilys, this is exactly how she lived. For others, it is how she will always be remembered.

Fly high Dilys forever in our hearts.

Many of you that were fortunate to have met Dilys will know what an inspirational lady she was. She filled a room with pure energy of positiveness and love.
In her own words Dilys was a late starter to skydiving. She was 54 when she did her first jump. At the age of 81 Dilys became the Guinness book of records holder for the oldest female skydiver in the world. She continued jumping up till 2019 at the age of 87 with over 1100 jumps. She also made one jump from 28,000 ft (8,500 m) which required an oxygen supply. In March 2020 she was meant to jump with us again but due to the lock down all was put on hold.

Until retirement Dilys was a senior lecturer at the Cardiff College of Education. She specialised in the art of movement and dance and had been taught by Rudolph Laban. Dilys was a very influential force in the inclusion and the respect for children and adults with special needs since the 1970s, when responsibility for ESN children went from the Health Board into the Education Department. She was a young Dance lecturer then in Cardiff College of Higher Education and was brought in by the Inspectorate to help this development of education for those children previously seen as “uneducable” and so  began to focus on special schools of all types.

This led her to innovative work with students in schools and also in Ely Hospital for the Mentally Handicapped, Whitchurch Hospital and Day Centres. Because her work was seen as innovative and successful she was asked to lecture in UK and even in USA.

In the ‘80’s Dilys started a Major Adaptive Physical Education for Special Needs in Cardiff Physical Education Department, which became therefore the first to run a Major Option in Adaptive Movement in the UK.

Following this she was part of the team that built the Wales Sports Centre for the Disabled in the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC), a breakthrough for equality and respect based on the Illinois University model. This has continued to develop and became in 2012 the important Inclusion Fitness Centre it is today, opened in time for the disabled athletes to train for the Paralympics.

Finally, Dilys had the dream of a Centre in a beautiful public place, which would be accessible and integrative, for those adults and children with the most profound disabilities (so often isolated and unhappy because they are barred from the community). This came to fruition in 2004. Dilys was the founder and director of the Touch Trust & became one of the seven Artistic Residents in the iconic Wales Millennium Centre, because of the power of her (copyrighted) art of movement programme, focussing on touch, music, connection, breath and fun.

In July 2003 she was awarded the OBE for Services to the Disabled. In September 2014, she won the UK National Diversity Lifetime Achiever Award in recognition of her inspirational work and attitude. Also in 2014 she was presented with the ‘Old and Bold’ trophy by The Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom. In 2017 she was awarded at The Pride of Britain Awards and made the Top 100 Women in Wales the following year.
In 2018 Dilys also became the new face of the high-end fashion label HELMUT LANG.
 

 

A brilliant video of one of Dilys many Ted Talks.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDy2gN4pu7c&feature=emb_logo

 

Dilys Price OBE, M.Ed, B.Ed, Hon Fellow, CMU.

– Founder & retired Director of Touch Trust Charity

​- OBE for Services to Special Needs and Education 2002

– Honorary Fellow C.M.U 2011

– Inspire Wales Award for Services to Art in Wales 2012

– Lifetime Achievement Award – National Diversity Awards 2014

– Lifetime Achievement Award – Wales Care Awards 2014

– Guinness World Records Holder 2013 – Worlds Oldest Female Skydiver

​- Old & Bold Award Royal Aero Club of Great Britain 2015

​- Senior Lecturer in Physical Education, Dance & Special Needs ​

Achievements & Awards

·         Disability Sport Wales 2019

·         Pride of Britain Award 2017​ – Special Recognition Award​​​

·         Old & Bold Award Royal Aero Club Great Britain 2015

·         Lifetime Achievement Award – National Diversity Awards    2014

·         Lifetime Achievement Award – Wales Care Awards  2014​

·         Special Inspirational Lifetime Achievement Award –Understanding Disability Group/Cardiff & the Vale Parents Association    2013

·         Significant Contribution to the Arts in Wales – Inspire Wales Award    2012

​·         Understanding Disability- Understanding  Disability Group /Cardiff &Vale Parents Association 2002

​​​​​·          Silver Medallist at British Parachute Nationals for Freestyle 2000​​​

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