A 95-year-old ABLE Day Centre volunteer is preparing to do two parachute jumps in the space of a week.
On the 8th September, John Jeffries will be doing a parachute jump with the famous Red Devils at Peterlee, to raise money for the Northumbria Blood Bikes charity.
Then, on 15th September, he will do another jump in Arnhem, Holland, this time to recreate a jump he made in 1944 during the ill-fated Operation Market Garden in the Second World War.
John, who lives in Richmond, says: “It has been over 73 years since my last parachute drop but I am coming out of retirement for the Blood Bikers and I can’t wait.
“I go to Arnhem each year to share my experiences with local schoolchildren and to take part in the commemorations, so as I will be out of retirement by then, it seemed logical to make the jump again.
“It will be nice being able to jump again at Arnhem but this time without being shot at!”
John will be doing the jump with the Red Devils, the Parachute Regiment’s parachute display team, in an event organised by Sky Dive Academy at the Peterlee Parachute Centre. He will be jumping with current and former Paratroopers.
Paul Moore, from Sky Dive Academy, said: “John is an amazing man and we are gladly waiving his jump fee so he can raise as much money as possible for charity.”
John last year published a very successful book, entitled ‘A Spirit for Adventure’, which charts his colourful life, from being orphaned at the age of two to his experiences in World War Two, which saw him being shot and wounded whilst parachuting into Arnhem, and his subsequent time as a Prisoner of War.
John then went on to have a successful career as an art teacher, a skill he still uses to help people at the Broadacres-run Able Centre in Colburn, where he works as a volunteer.
His daughter, Lynn Tomkinson, who is Manager of The Able Centre, says: “After writing a book and jumping out of a plane at the age of 95, we never know what dad will do next, but it certainly won’t be something dull!”
Northumbria Blood Bikes is a registered charity established by local volunteers to deliver essential blood and urgent medical supplies, out of hours. People who would like to sponsor John can do so by visiting this website and searching for “John Jeffries”.