The Eddie the Eagle movie is filling cinemas all over the UK and north America right now – recalling the amazing story of Eddie Edwards, the young kid from a West Midlands plumbing family who made good despite all the odds.
Ed was born with a serious physical disability which meant he had to wear metal calipers to allow him to simply walk. While he was resting one Saturday with feet up he watched ski jumping on TV with mum. And got so inspired he said – “Mum I am going to get better and be a ski jumper just like those chaps on the tele.”
Ed was only around 10 at the time but he started a fitness regime to allow him firstly to walk without the metal aids. Then, as a teenager, he left school and got a start in skiing as a boots and ski mechanic with Schools Abroad, a British tour operator who encouraged children, many from underprivileged backgrounds, to go skiing.
While he was based at Limone, Italian Alps, Eddie got lessons from both locals and other young British instructors. And he was so keen he sucked up all the knowledge and was skiing like a pro when one of the Good Ski Guide writers, John Hazel, on assignment in Limone, went skiing with Eddie, who revealed he was working as a techie to get money to become a ski jumper Hazel got Eddie to demonstrate his prowess by leaping over two giant ratracks (massive snow-tilling machines) and the resulting GSG publicity was used by Ed to get sponsors and after traipsing all over the country – in his dad’s plumber’s van – Eddie started to get backers and finally got into the British Ski Team for the 1988 Calgary Olympics where he became a sensation – for losing with great grace and entertaining the massively-kind Canadian crowds. Ed was interviewed on mainline US TV and on major British channels, and by newspapers all over the world. Then he retired, but still skis – and jumps for fun.