Pensioner dubbed 'crazy bird lady' dons fancy dress to entertain her neighbours

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A great-grandmother known affectionately as the “crazy bird lady” is doing her bit to make people smile during the lockdown and support healthcare workers.

Sheila Harbridge has become known for her love of feathered friends, as she has around a dozen birds at home in Astley, including parrots, cockatiels and a galah. She even takes some of them out in a pram, which she leans on to help her walk.

The 71-year-old even dressed as a chicken and walked along her street to boost her neighbours’ spirits during the lockdown.

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And now Sheila has branched out, as she wears a different costume every Thursday evening to coincide with the national Clap for Carers.

Sheila Harbridge in one of her costumesSheila Harbridge in one of her costumes
Sheila Harbridge in one of her costumes | jpimedia

Sheila said: “When they started clapping on a Thursday for the NHS, when I went outside, there were only a few people out. I thought it was a shame.

“After a couple of weeks I thought I would get dressed up. I put fancy dress on. I can hardly walk, so I have a pram that I take my parrots in and take them for a walk.

“I think I was a chicken for the first week and pushed the pram and played the Chicken Song.

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“I always get a song to go with the outfit and buy little presents for the children on the street, like chocolate eggs.”

Sheila walks along Tintern Avenue and Abbey Road in her costume and back to her home, bringing cheer to her neighbours as they recognise the efforts of healthcare workers.

She says someone now stands on the doorstep of “practically every house” to applaud, as well as to look out for her.

“Everybody waits for me now on a Thursday to see what I’m wearing,” she said.

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Thanks to internet shopping, she has been able to buy a host of fancy dress outfits, allowing her to parade along the street dressed as a whoopee cushion, a shark, a dog and a unicorn.

While she walks with the pram, she leaves her birds at home as it is too cold for them to go in the evenings and puts a toy parrot in the stroller instead.

Sheila plans to keep finding new outfits and entertaining her neighbours each Thursday.

She said: “I enjoy doing it and it’s the only time I go out. I never leave the house.

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“I’m 71 and never go out because I’m on the vulnerable list. I walk in the middle of the road so I’m not near anybody, I leave my house at about 7.55pm and by the time I have walked down the street, I’m back for 8.30pm and that’s me done for the week.”

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