Mercy Baggs encourages OAPs to tick off their bucket lists as 'you only have one life to lead'
An extraordinary grandma-of-four who argues 'age is just a number' has completed two skydives in her senior years and vows to do another if she makes it to 95. Mercy Baggs, 90, of Wiltshire, employs a 'you only live once' mentality and encourages other OAPs to get out and tick off their bucket list without regret.
The former councillor and British Transport Police worker says her grandkids think she's 'scatty' while she often gets comments from others asking if she's 'mad'. "They say 'you're not like other grannies,'" Mercy says, explaining to The Mirror what her family think of her endeavours.
"I get comments saying 'you must be absolutely mad. When are you going to grow up?' And I say 'never.' I enjoy life. When I wake up in the morning I think 'thank God, I've got another day."
"You have to remember that you only live once and too many people put off things that they'd love to do," Mercy argues.
"I feel sorry for people who say 'I wish I'd done that' - do it. You have one life to lead, this is it.
"Things crop up in your life that you just cannot afford to ignore, but if ever I get a chance to do anything daft, then I will. The worst thing people can say to me is 'you wouldn't dare do that'."
When Mercy was seven, in 1939, she was evacuated during World War II to live with a family in Surrey - who she still sees as family today.
The 90-year-old returned home in 1945 and left school at 16, before joining the British Transport Commission Police at 19.
However, it took an emotional toll on a young Mercy.
"We dealt with accidents and absconders - running from different homes and places," she reflects.
" A lot of people we dealt with were ex-army and football crowds.
"There were quite distressing instances. You saw those that had absolutely nothing and would sleep in the waiting rooms.
" There was far more respect for the police back then but once someone did throw a punch at me and I'm afraid I wasn't very ladylike and grabbed him. He squealed a bit.
"It was an education though."
The mum-of-two daughters went on to dedicate her life to her local community, working as a councillor for 22 years.
She also worked as a special needs governor, helping children with autism and aspersers syndrome in public settings.
Mercy says that when people get to her age, they tend to put health woes down to 'old age', and this mistake nearly saw her paralysed.
In 2007, she had two tumours removed from her spine, which unfortunately left her struggling to walk far.
"When you get older, you get pins and needles in your leg and think that's normal," she explains.
"I kept tripping over and then it came to a head. The doctor referred me for an MRI scan and they found I had two big tumours on my spine.
"The doctor said if 'we don't do something very quickly, you'll be paralysed.'"
This spurred Mercy on to do things she wanted, and two years later she completed her first charity skydive raising funds for her local sports clubs and Wiltshire Air Ambulance.
She was 77 at the time, and jumped out of a plane again earlier this year at 89 - which her doctor gave her the green light for.
"I read about people doing it and once I told the family, I was going to do it," she says.
"It was nice for the first one in May, but the one this year in March was the coldest day ever, it was freezing. My face literally froze.
"When the door opens and you're sitting on the edge of the plane, I thought 'oh my God.' We took off and it was exhilarating. I thoroughly enjoyed it."
"If I'm lucky to live to 95, I will do another one. I would love to," she adds.
While Mercy enjoys getting out for walks and gardening, as well as cooking, she maintains an active social life, meeting up with friends.
She encourages other pensioners to get out and do the things they want to, before it's too late.
One thing left on her bucket list is the Top of the Rockies Zip Line in Colorado.
"Age is just a number," Mercy, who despite being comfortable freefalling doesn't like going up stepladders, states.
"I was 59 on the Sunday, on the Monday I was 90. I was still the same person. Age isn't a barrier to anything.
"You've got to have faith in yourself. People say 'oh you must be mad to do it', you're not, you're doing it because you want to.
"You have to take the chance - how many people say 'what if?' 'what if I don't like it', well try it."
The daredevil has teamed up with meal delivery company Wiltshire Farm Foods, which has today launched its Wishlist Fund - allowing older Brits to nominate themselves or someone they know to apply to live out their bucket list wishes for free.
A poll of 2,000 adults, aged 55 and over, found that 87 per cent have such a wish list, with paragliding, tornado chasing, and skinny dipping all popular options.
As are going to space, diving into a shipwreck, sleeping in a jungle and exploring an abandoned building.
But despite having a list of exciting activities they want to do, 50 per cent are concerned they won't achieve many of their life goals - and they put this down to lack of money (43 per cent), their age (36 per cent), and health issues (27 per cent).
The initiative allows seniors to apply for the chance to 'make their dreams come true' - by crossing off activities from their own wish lists.
By Saffron Otter Features Writer