In May 1983 Janet began training with the RAF Falcons at the RAF No 1 Parachute Training School. Her aim was to win back the UK civilian free fall record and eleven months later she made her first free fall jump from a Hercules aircraft at 12,000 feet. On 12th September 1984 disaster struck when Janet broke her pelvis. Understandably, she was not very keen to try again, but Biddy Baxter would have none of it:
"I want to think of your courage like a ketchup bottle," Biddy said at the time, recalled Janet, "and if there is only a tiny bit of courage at the bottom just turn it upside down and shake it on the bottom and I'm sure some more will come out."
Thanks to Biddy's encouraging words, Janet was soon back in training and on 8th October 1986 she jumped 2,000 feet and created a European record jump for a civilian woman. Unfortunately, Janet didn't make it into the Guinness Book of Records as her record was broken before the book was published - boo!
Boxes for the year 2000
On 20th March 1984, the site where in 1971 Val, Pete and John had a planted a tree and buried a box for the year 2000 was due for redevelopment. Obtaining the map and key from the BBC bank, Simon, Peter and Sarah supervised the moving of the tree and box to the Blue Peter Garden.
To commemorate the move, a second box was buried containing the following:
On 7th January 2000, Simon and Janet (Peter was travelling the world with his family) joined Val, John and Peter to dig up the boxes. Luckily, the contents remained relatively intact.
- A photo of Simon, Peter, Janet and Goldie next to the original location
- A second photo of Simon, Peter, Janet, Goldie, Jack and George
- An old collar of Goldie's and six of her hairs
- A cover of the 21st Blue Peter book (the actual book hadn't been printed yet)
- A record of the signature tune arranged by Mike Oldfield
- A current issue of the Radio Times with an article on Blue Peter
- A letter saying who the presenters were and a list of all the things in that day's programme
List of appeals and targets
1983 - The Weather Beater Appeal - Bring and Buy sales for aid for 21 countries hit by droughts and floods
1984 - The Double Lifesaver Appeal - stamp, buttons and postcards for lifeboats in the UK and plumbing for Ethiopia
1985 - The Lend an Ear Appeal - keys, coins and scrap for hearing aids
1986 - The Sight Saver Appeal - Bring and Buy sales for mobile eye units in Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania
The vandalising of the Blue Peter Garden
On 21st November 1983, in the kind of report normally reserved for the death of a pet, a sombre Janet Ellis announced that over the weekend the Blue Peter Garden had been vandalised.
The mystery over who was responsible was unsolved until October 2000 when footballer Les Ferdinand confessed he'd been part of the gang responsible, prompting The Sun to call for him to cough up. "It was malicious vandalism," said a still angry Simon Groom. "He should contribute to the Blue Peter Appeal."
The Blue Peter Bird Patrol
Every winter since 1984, children from Bentworth's School close to Television Centre have been visiting the Blue Garden three times a week to feed the birds. Thanks to their efforts, many species of birds including great tits, blue tits and blackbirds have survived the winter.
In 1984 Blue Peter became the first live show in the world to be subtitled. The sub-titlers work closely with the production team, turning the script into subtitles, with each presenter assigned a different colour.
The Blue Peter Expeditions
1983 - Sri Lanka
1984 - Kenya
1985 - Australia
Outstanding Endeavour Awards
In 1984 eleven-year old Martin Pout was honoured for his quick-thinking while on holiday in Spain. An elderly gentleman was drowning in the hotel pool and Martin, remembering the life-saving instructions in the Fifth Blue Peter book jumped in and saved him.
In 1985 Bob Geldof was honoured for his work on Band Aid, Live Aid and Sport Aid.