High-flier Maureen turns pilot, aged 98

A WEST Byfleet woman has shown that the years are no obstacle to adventure – by piloting a helicopter at the age of 98.

Maureen Osborne took to the skies during a flying lesson at Fairoaks Airport, a present from her eldest son.

FLIGHT PLAN – Maureen Osborne discusses the finer points of landing a helicopter with her instructor at Fairoaks Airport

“It was thrilling,” said Maureen. “I enjoyed it very much. They told me I was the oldest person to have a lesson.

“Everything went perfectly. The lesson was half an hour, and I took over the controls as we landed.”

Maureen is no stranger to being a high flier.

She is the author of six books, and for many years wrote plays for the BBC Schools programmes.

“I was in the Services during the war and after that worked in London and then Twickenham, as   secretary to the borough librarian,” she said.

“My first date with Maurice (Maureen’s late husband) was the day I posted a play to BBC Radio 4 and was asked by them to work as a scriptwriter. That was how I became a professional writer.

“Maurice and I were happily married for over 60 years, and we have three children and six grandchildren. Sadly, he died six years ago.

“My eldest son, Julian, is a Professor of Astrophysics, my daughter Colette works in social housing and my youngest son, Christopher, is a psychotherapist.

“I was always invited to the BBC when my plays were rehearsed and broadcast, and I met many fine actors from West End theatres.

“I then wrote books for children, published by Heineman, and started getting awards for my short stories and poems.

“And I have been running courses on many aspects of writing, including poetry, which is my favourite.”

Maureen’s work includes Twice Upon a Time, selected as one of the best books of the year, and Here Comes the Horrobilly and The Horrobilly goes to School, both books used by the Open University and read on radio.  

Among Maureen’s many other accomplishments are having also worked for the Children’s Film Foundation and taught at Surrey University, the British Museum, and Millfield and Marlborough summer schools.

And she shows no signs of slowing down.

“I am still working, writing, teaching and travelling to give talks, although all have been curtailed because of COVID,” she said. “And one of my poems has just been published in an anthology.”

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