Olympic ski jumper Eddie the Eagle Edwards landed at Chester Racecourse on Saturday evening to support a great cause as cinema-goers were no doubt watching the biopic movie about his life story just down the road.
‘Eddie’, real name Mike Edwards, was a guest at the Action for A-T charity ball in the pavilion which raised £50,000 to help fund research into finding a cure for the rare disease Ataxia Telangiectasia (AT).
He was invited by organisers Vaughn and Joanne Rawson from Gresford who began running the ball in 2012 to support their close friends whose seven-year-old twin boys have the life-limiting condition.
Mike, originally from Cheltenham, found fame after fulfilling his childhood dream to become an Olympian by competing in the ski jump at the 1988 Calgary games in Canada.
As a beginner, he was always going to come last but he didn’t care and people around the globe took ‘Eddie the Eagle’ to their hearts.
“For me, getting to those Olympic games was my gold medal,” explained Mike, 52, who is once again in demand from the world’s media following the release of Eddie the Eagle, the film.
“I knew that I was going to come last when I went to Calgary. I’d only been jumping for 20 months and everybody else had been jumping for 20 years.”
Despite being the man of the moment, Mike found time to support the Action for A-T ball at the racecourse where he was only too happy to chat with other guests and pose for selfies.
He told The Chronicle: “I met Vaughn (organiser) at a charity event in North Wales. They were doing a big zip line – they’ve got that huge zip line over near Snowdonia – and I met them there and they said that they organise this charity ball for a very local charity in Chester and would I be able to come.
“I went about two years ago and it was lovely and I couldn’t go last year because I was called away to Germany, I think it was. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it this year because it’s right in the middle of the movie being out but I found myself being free on the Saturday so I told Vaughn that I would come up and go to the ball and, yes, it was lovely. It’s well attended and they raise lots of money for a very, very good cause.”
Mike, who has visited Chester many times and has played golf at Carden Park, added: “I did plenty of selfies and a few autographs and was dragged up on the dance floor to have a boogie occasionally and it was a nice evening.”
Asked about the fame that goes with the territory, Mike, a working plasterer from a humble background, said: “I do like it but I don’t crave it. I just regard it as a job that I have to do and as much as I enjoy it, I don’t go looking for it and I’m just as happy being at home being a plasterer and leading a normal life as being ‘Eddie the Eagle’ and doing TV and radio and being famous.”
People may assume the ‘Eddie the Eagle’ movie will make Mike his fortune but not so, according to the man at the centre of the film starring Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton playing Eddie himself.
“It’s the people who put up the money that make the money really and rightly so. If I had £40m to make the film then I can by all means keep the money that comes in.
“I make a little bit of money but not much. I’m not going to be a JK Rowling. I’m not going to make £150m. I’ll be lucky if I make enough to go on a holiday,” added Mike, but acknowledged he can make money ‘off the back’ of the film through personal appearances and PR work.
“I won’t need to plaster for this year and next year, with a bit of luck! I can be busy travelling the world and talking about the film, which is more fun,” he added, stressing the film-makers have done ‘a fantastic job’ and ‘kept quite true’ to his life story.
Mike, who lives near Stroud, hadn’t jumped for 20 years but did some jumping in January with a small group of Brits in Courchevel, France, at a charitable event.
“Yeah, it was good. I might do some more later on this year or early next year but I’ll wait and see how things go.”