Photo: Ken Bland
A 79-year-old grandfather is to jump out of an aeroplane on Wednesday (September 9th) in a sponsored skydive for Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.
Retired firefighter Ken Bland, from Whitstable, will take the plunge from 12,000ft at Headcorn Aerodrome, watched by family and friends.
The grandfather-of-six is taking on the lofty challenge despite battling prostate cancer for which he is still receiving treatment.
Ken had to get a “Declaration of Fitness to Parachute” from his local GP ahead of the tandem jump with an instructor.
He said: “At the age of 79, I thought it was time to do something like this. I’ve never done anything like it before and I’m getting quite excited because I’ve wanted to do it for such a long time.
“My wife thinks I’m a bit barmy but my grandchildren think it’s fantastic. I’m also hoping to jump on my 80th birthday provided the old knees and hips are OK. I want to do the skydive before I’m too old.”
Ken’s skydive will be filmed as he plummets in freefall for 30-40 seconds at 120mph, but his wife Eileen is too scared to watch so will be staying at their Tankerton Road home.
Skydive Headcorn manager Jane Hopkins said: “We had an 84-year-old skydiver last week and we have had a 90-year-old in the past so 79 is quite young in comparison. We look forward to seeing Ken on Wednesday.”
Ken used to hold a private pilots licence, flying Cessna 152s, and is no stranger to heights having worked for London Fire Brigade for 30 years.
The father-of-two has so far raised £237 of his £500 target and can be sponsored at www.justgiving.com/Kenneth-Bland where family and friends have left messages of support.
Daughter Julie wrote: “Good luck Dad, so proud of you. We’ll all be there to support you.”
His grandchildren Nicole and Christian added: “Good luck granddad. Hope you enjoy it!”