Parachutists Commemorated In Eastbourne

Wednesday 2nd August 2017

eastbourne buzz news - Helen Gardans Plaque

An installation celebrating the lives of famous Edwardian parachutist Dolly Shepherd and her daughter Molly Sedgwick has been unveiled at the Helen Garden in Meads.

Meads Ward Councillors Kathy Ballard, Robert Smart and Barry Taylor agreed to fund the planting of two pine trees and the installation of an interpretation board through the Devolved Budget.

The story began in 2007 when £1,000 was received from the estate of the late Molly Sedgwick with a request that the money be used in memory of her mother Elizabeth Sedgwick, who died in 1983. Both women lived in Meads.

Molly’s mother had become famous in her younger days as Dolly Shepherd, the Edwardian Lady Parachutist. Not only had she thrilled crowds by her daring parachute descents, she had also carried out what is probably the world’s earliest mid-air rescue of another lady parachutist who had got into difficulties while performing a double descent with Dolly in 1908.

In 2004, at the age of 84, daughter Molly performed a 13,000 ft. parachute jump with the Red Devils to commemorate her mother’s courage and bravery.

In 2007 a triangular flowerbed was created in the Helen Garden as a memorial to Dolly and Molly, but the planting scheme did not flourish. When the Friends of Meads Parks and Gardens was formed in 2015 one of the first things they decided to do was to sort out the neglected flowerbed. It was then that they learnt about its history.

The Friends began talks with Eastbourne Borough Council and Meads Councillor Kathy Ballard, who arranged for funds to be given through the Devolved Budget to create a more fitting way to celebrate the lives of both women. As a result, the interpretation board was installed and two pine trees were planted.

Cllr Ballard said, “The Molly bed was looking a bit sad, so the Friends group asked for our help to create a much nicer celebration of Molly and Dolly’s lives. I think what they’ve done is terrific and I hope local residents and visitors from farther afield enjoy what the Friends have created.”

Terrie Rintoul, Chair of the Friends of Meads Parks and Gardens, said, “This is our first significant achievement. I would like to thank Meads Councillors Kathy Ballard, Robert Smart and Barry Taylor for their support in providing funds from the Devolved Budget to make this possible.

“We hope that when people stop to read about these two extraordinary women, they will find their story truly inspirational.”

The trees are also known as Umbrella or Parasol Pines and the Friends hope that over time they will become known as the Parachute Pines.


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