‘Thrill of a lifetime’: 80-year-old woman skydives for charity

A woman celebrated her 80th birthday by jumping out of a plane 15,000ft in the air to raise money for a hospice in memory of her partner.

Auriel Glanville, from Florence Road in Wimbledon, bravely took to the skies on Thursday with the GoSkydive team at Old Sarum Airfield in Salisbury to raise vital funds for St Raphael’s Hospice, which has sites across Merton, for her late partner Richard Mackie who died of cancer.

Hitting a top speed of 125mph during the dive, Ms Glanville said she felt calm the whole time on the way up.

But the moment she dangled her legs over the edge of the exit was when she “felt lots of adrenaline”.

Ms Glanville flew at 125mph (Picture: Auriel Glanville)

“You’re strapped in very tight to the instructor and then you free fall,” said Ms Glanville. “That was the scary part. But then there’s this almighty jerk as the parachute comes out and it’s just peaceful looking down on our planet.”

Ms Glanville said the idea was inspired by a woman she knew in her 30s who did skydiving for charity. The 80-year-old did not feel capable to do it then but recently saw St Raphael’s Hospice offer it as a way to raise money for them and she jumped at the opportunity.

The skydive was also in memory of her friend Dave Lofthouse, who was also under the care of the hospice.

Mr Lofthouse was arboricultural manager at the London Borough of Merton for 33 years and planted many trees for nature group Planet Earth.

Ms Glanville said she could see Stonehenge from the dive (Picture: Auriel Glanville)

Ms Glanville, Mr Mackie and Mr Lofthouse planted four woodlands in Wandle Park, Colliers Wood.

Ms Glanville added: “It was the thrill of a lifetime and amazing to see the world from above and marvel at the very planet he dedicated so much of his time protecting.

“I was in tandem with the chief instructor who expertly guided me through the skies, making me feel safe and who gave me such a brilliant experience.”

Ms Glanville has raised £3,500 for the hospice which provides end of life care to more than 1,000 patients every year and valuable support to their families and friends.

To donate please go to:

Pictured top: Ms Glanville and her instructor take to the skies (Picture: Auriel Glanville)

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