Sir Tim Wallis 'really pleased' to be 70

Tim Wallis on his 70th bithday. Photo by Matthew Haggart.
Tim Wallis on his 70th bithday. Photo by Matthew Haggart.
Sir Tim Wallis says his life has been one of persistence and perseverance and the two qualities have "always" accompanied him throughout an extraordinary 70 years.

The aviation entrepreneur and businessman celebrated his 70th birthday in Wanaka yesterday accompanied by a steady stream of well-wishers who visited to offer their congratulations.

"I'm really pleased to get to 70. I've got my mother's genes and she lived to 92, so I always knew I'd be around for a while," he said.

Surrounded by birthday cards in his office at the Alpine Deer Group headquarters at Wanaka airport, Sir Tim said he had had a wonderful day among his "very loyal" staff and close friends.

He was looking forward to a birthday dinner with his family last night and was excited about going to the movies to watch Mamma Mia, a musical based on the songs of Abba.

It may seem like a strange choice of movie for a legendary Southern man, known for his love of the outdoors, and his hunting and piloting skills, but Sir Tim's sense of humour stands him in good stead.

"It's great. This will be my third time watching it. I get to pick up on all the things I missed the other times around," he said.

Sir Tim has achieved many things during his 70 years, but he has also had more than his fair share of setbacks, including several life-threatening accidents, such as when he broke his back in a helicopter accident in 1968, and crashed a Spitfire in 1996.

A saying of Sir Tim's still hangs on the wall at the Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch Hospital where he spent time recovering.

"I've lived with a broken back for 40 years and I never it let stop me," he said yesterday.

"Don't let what you cannot do stop you from doing what you can do."


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