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Octagenarian drummer raises £5,000 for charity by skydiving at 15,000 feet aged 89

Octagenarian drummer raises £5,000 for charity by skydiving at 15,000 feet aged 89
Dennis Moulton, 89, of Hampshire, jumped at the chance of leaping from a plane and says age is just a number

A retired drummer who has fulfilled his lifelong dream of skydiving from a plane at 15,000 feet and helped to raise £5,000 in the process has shown he is still rocking life just months away from turning 90.

Keen to combine his taste for adventure with helping the Marie Curie charity, which supports the terminally ill, Dennis Moulton jumped at the chance of joining some pals for the adrenaline filled feat.

Dennis, 89, a dad of three and grandad of two, who  has lived at Care UK’s Dashwood Manor home in Basingstoke, Hampshire, since September 2021, said: “It was splendid. The feeling of free falling was simply amazing and I was just trying to take it all in. It was better than I ever expected.”

He added: “Age is only a number. You can do anything if you are determined.”

A dapper gent, Dennis, who turns 90 on June 27, says the jump was a fitting way to celebrate an exciting life, which has seen him work as a money printer and a drummer in a band called Wave before he retired aged 64.

In his youth, he loved driving sports cars and even climbed the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia.

A smiling Dennis preparing for his skydive (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).
A smiling Dennis preparing for his skydive (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).

So, when he set off with three people from the home to the sky diving centre in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on April 25, ready to take to the skies, Dennis was as cool as a cucumber.

His first ever skydive, it came about after he posted a note on the wishing tree in the reception of the home where he lives.

It is a special place where residents pin little messages saying places they would like to visit, or activities they are interested in trying.

I had been thinking about the skydive for quite a while, but none of my family wanted to do it with me.

These can include anything from a fish and chip supper to trying out skiing, but skydiving is definitely one of the most adventurous wishes to have come true.Dennis, who says this has been a lifelong desire for him, said: “I had been thinking about the skydive for quite a while, but none of my family wanted to do it with me.

“I knew though that it was something I wanted. Why let age stop me?”

Dennis and the care home staff preparing for the jump (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).
Dennis and the care home staff preparing for the jump (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).

So, with no serious health complaints and proudly in charge of all his mental faculties, Dennis was determined to give it a go.

Keen to make it happen, but with a view to any potential risks to his health, staff at the home spoke to Dennis’ GP and were given the go-ahead back in early spring.

They then contacted a skydive company and set up the incredible adventure initially for late March this year.

Dennis preparing for his skydive (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).
Dennis preparing for his skydive (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).

Regional Directors at Care UK, Eileen Coyle-Jones and Angi Knight as well as the Customer Relations Manager at Dashwood Manor, Leahanne Wilkinson, all decided to join Dennis on the jump.

Unlike some of the care home staff, Dennis  says he was not even slightly nervous in the run up to the big day, insisting instead that he felt “brilliant” and was raring to go.

Then, unfortunately, on the day of the original skydive, Dennis could not lift his legs sufficiently for the organisers to feel it was safe for him to jump.

Dennis falling through the sky (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).
Dennis falling through the sky (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).

He said: “It was sad really, as we were all there and ready to go. But I knew I wouldn’t give up.”

True to his word, undeterred, Dennis visited the care home’s physiotherapist twice a week for a month, doing exercises on his own every day as well, to increase his mobility.

And by late April, he was strong enough to lift his legs to a sufficient height and was allowed to complete the jump.

Dennis and the staff from the home (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).
Dennis and the staff from the home (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).

He said: “I was delighted. It was happening at long last.”

So, on April 25, he and the three care home staff took a leap of faith and jumped from the plane, spiralling down 15,000 feet to terra firma in tandem jumps with instructors.

Dennis said: “It was unlike anything I had ever done before. What a rush!”

Dennis in the sky (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).
Dennis in the sky (Care UK’s Dashwood Manor/PA Real Life).

Better still, Dennis’ efforts have raised £2,493 for Marie Curie and, with donations still coming in and his final total being matched by Care UK, he looks set to top £5,000.

Dennis, who likes walking and sitting in the garden of the care home enjoying the sunshine, says he has no plans for anymore adrenaline-filled activities  anytime soon.

But he is still in basking the glory of his achievement, saying: “I feel absolutely brilliant. This hasn’t fazed me at all. I’m so glad I did it.”

I knew though that it was something I wanted. Why let age stop me?

Michelle Martin, Fundraising Director at Marie Curie says Dennis’ achievement has been a real tonic for all who work for the charity.

She said: “Thank goodness for Dennis. This is the story we all need right now! On behalf of the whole charity, I want to say a huge thank you to Dennis.

“The money he has raised will help us care for people affected by terminal illness all over the UK and I suspect that when people see his amazing achievement he’ll smash his fundraising target. I know Dennis will inspire so many people out there who will, just like Dennis, reach new heights with their fundraising.”

To donate to Dennis’ fundraising efforts, please visit: justgiving.com/DashwoodManor