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Intrepid octegenarian proves age is no barrier to adventure with sponsored skydive for hospice appeal

PUBLISHED: 11:27 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:37 01 May 2019

John Duff, 87, who will be jumping out of an aeroplane at 13,000 feet on May 25, to raise cash for people needing end-of-life care. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

John Duff, 87, who will be jumping out of an aeroplane at 13,000 feet on May 25, to raise cash for people needing end-of-life care. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

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When octogenarian John Duff decided to organise an event to raise money to support people needing end-of-life hospice care, he was determined not to let his age hold him back.

John Duff, 87, who will be jumping out of an aeroplane at 13,000 feet on May 25, to raise cash for people needing end-of-life careJohn Duff, 87, who will be jumping out of an aeroplane at 13,000 feet on May 25, to raise cash for people needing end-of-life care

And, keen to get a little fun and excitement into the bargain, Mr Duff, 87, came up with the idea of jumping out of an aeroplane from 13,000 feet.

“I like a bit of a challenge and I certainly don't think I'm too old – I prefer to use the word 'mature',” he said.

The former London insurance broker, who moved from Muswell Hill to Sheringham five years ago, was inspired to do the tandem skydive by the care received by his wife Vera, who was diagnosed with lung cancer on the same day he was told he had cancer of the larynx, in 2011.

With the support of eldest son Jonathan, who looked after both his parents, Mr Duff made a full recovery, but his wife, whom he married in 1955, did not respond to treatment and died in 2013 after spending three months at the Marie Curie Hospice, in north-west London.

“We were very lucky as Macmillan Nurses found us a place at the hospice and the staff there were very kind to my wife,” Mr Duff said.

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“I've never done anything this before, but I thought that if I could do something to help other people, then that would be wonderful.”

Mr Duff's sponsored skydive, which will take place at Beccles airfield on May 25, will raise cash for the East Coast Hospice appeal to build a £5 million, ten-bed specialist palliative care facility for people in Great Yarmouth and Waveney, which is the only area in the country without a hospice.

Family and friends will be going along to provide moral support and while Mr Duff, who has two sons, three grandchildren and a great-grandaughter, admits to being quite excited about the prospect of jumping out of an aeroplane, he says he is not at all nervous.

“I am not worried in the slightest,” he said. “My only fear is not being able to do it and letting people down.”

In spite of the fact that his ninetieth birthday is edging closer, he says he's keen to take on more challenges and already has a couple of ideas in the pipeline.

“I quite fancy go-karting or water skiing next – anything exciting with a bit of fun in it,” he said.

To support Mr Duff,visit: www.virginmoneygiving.com/JohnDuff4 or to find out more about the East Coast Hospice appeal, visit www.eastcoasthospice.org.uk

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