Buxton man defies arthritis and fear of heights to take on skydive for Blythe House Hospicecare

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A Buxton man with arthritis has raised more than £850 for a High Peak hospice charity after taking the plunge for a daredevil skydive.

Batham Gate resident Mark Kirkham, 57, touched down safely in a Lincolnshire field on Sunday, July 4, after an exhilarating tandem jump organised by the Blythe House Hospicecare.

He said: “It was supposed to happen early last year but then it was postponed again and again due to weather conditions and lockdowns.

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“Each time I got a new date the nerves kicked in and I had to build myself up for it. By the time I was on the plane I was absolutely petrified.”

Mark Kirkham after completing his skydive for Blythe House Hospicecare.Mark Kirkham after completing his skydive for Blythe House Hospicecare.
Mark Kirkham after completing his skydive for Blythe House Hospicecare.

He added: “The bit I remember most clearly is just before exiting the plane. I was strapped to the instructor like a baby and literally just hanging out the door. The wind was unbelievable.

“It’s hard to explain the feeling after that. It’s not a natural thing to do to chuck yourself out of a plane.”

It is not the first time Mark has taken on a death-defying feat for charity, having previously completed two bungee jumps in order to confront his own fears.

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He said: “Years ago I fell off a three-storey roof and broke my foot. I’ve been very nervous about heights ever since.

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“I was frightened to death but a skydive was on my bucket list and then I heard an advert on the radio asking for volunteers to do this for Blythe House.”

He added: “I had a friend who was in the hospice a long time ago and I know about everything they do for their patients so that gave me the extra motivation.”

The jump also represented a victory of sorts in Mark’s own battle with rheumatoid arthritis. The condition ended his career as a plasterer and forced him into a new life running a food stand outside Tunstead quarry.

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Most of the money he raised came from supportive customers, topped up by Mark’s fellow darts players at the Swan on Buxton High Street.

Mark said: “It feels great to have raised so much. I can’t thank everyone enough. It was an unforgettable experience.

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“I’d love to do it again. It’s like a good film, you want to go back and watch for all the things you missed the first time.”

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