Sunday 25 February 2018

Retired teacher, 80, breaks both legs in birthday paragliding accident

File photo
File photo

Adam Boult

A retired teacher who decided to celebrate his 80th birthday by paragliding has broken both his legs in a crash landing.

Mike Pont, who has suffered from recurring skin cancer and previously lost an eye in a road accident, attempted the  ‘Geriatrics Jump’ to raise money for Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare.

But after suffering the accident, having leaped more than 165 metres off the South Downs, the pensioner said he was “really pleased” he managed to complete the challenge.

Mr Pont, from Little Horsted, East Sussex, decided to take on the fundraiser to confront his fear of heights. He has previously had both knees replaces and also a replacement hip.

Before attempting the feat, he wrote on his online fundraising page: “I have taken a break from my partial sanity to complete a paragliding jump.

"As you may know I turned 80 a few months ago and not content with permanently marking myself with my first tattoo, I thought I'd risk life and limb by paragliding off from the Sussex Downs. Let's see if my knee and hip replacements can take it."

He made the leap dressed as a Spitfire pilot as a tribute to a war-time pilot he had witnessed being killed after bailing out of his aircraft at Dallington, near Heathfield.

After the crash landing, Mr Pont was rushed to the Royal Sussex Hospital County Hospital, in Brighton, and is now at home.

Nigel Mason, Raystede's chief executive, said: "He's such a remarkable man and was so determined to do the jump, we hope he recovers soon.

"We spoke to Mike's wife and she told us that he is really pleased he managed to do the jump still, but it is such a shame he's suffering so much now."

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