Review of ‘Everest, a Cockpit and Antarctica’, by Sheila Dyson

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 20th September 2004, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Sheila Dyson
Published by Red Grouse
ISBN 0-9547746-0-4 (2004)

Sheila Dyson is up there with the best of our local heroines. This is her story of three magnificent achievements, fulfilling the almost unthinkable dreams which helped her rebuild her life following the death of her much loved husband, Cyril.

Living on the edge of the Peak District, the Dysons had shared a passion for the outdoors, climbing and hill walking. One of their favourite places was Stanage Edge, where after only a few years of marriage the still young Sheila was to scatter Cyril's ashes.

Her therapy for coping with bereavement began with long slogs in the Peak, then came running and fell races. But this was not enough. Already affected by an unhappy childhood and highly perceptive about the early shaping of her personality, Sheila made a vow to help her deal with the pain and rage of widowhood. She would live out her three dearest dreams: to see Mount Everest, learn to fly an aeroplane and make an epic journey to Antarctica.

She decided to start with Everest - 'just like that' comes to mind. Typically, there is only one mention of 'the bunion' which must have been hard to ignore on an exhausting climb to the summit of the highest trekking peak in Nepal.

Learning to fly came next, leading to a share in an aeroplane, purchased within two hours of receiving her Private Pilot's Licence. Sheila doesn't even do impulse buys by halves. No matter that the craft had a firmly masculine personality, an inclination towards bungee landings and challenges of its own.

In her late forties Sheila set out to conquer dream number three, signing up for an expedition to climb the highest mountain in Antarctica. Again it was the Peak District which provided her with the fine training routes needed to get fit and it was in Hathersage where she bought her gear.

The illustrated story of how this apparently most unworldly woman achieved her heart's desires and came to terms with loss is inspirational. Writing a book, by the way, is the first leg of her second triple Odyssey - one down and two to go.

Review by Julie Bunting

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