Hilda, 80, will lead three generations in charity jump
She has never even been in an aeroplane before, but that is not going to stop 80-year-old Hilda Thomas from jumping out of one.
The great-grandmother-of-three is one of nine members – and three generations – of her family who will be doing a parachute jump to raise money for the hospital and charity which helped her son, Chris, when he was diagnosed with cancer.
Accompanied by Amanda Hutchings, one of the nurses who cared for Mr Thomas at the Weybourne Day Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the family plan to do their skydive on Saturday, September 10, at Ellough Airfield, near Beccles.
They will also be raising money for Myeloma UK, the charity which provides information about the little-known type of cancer and lobbies for more research into the condition.
Mrs Thomas, who lives in Denton with her husband, Tim, 88, and who will celebrate her 81st birthday later this month, said: 'As soon as Chris said this was what he wanted to do, all the family decided to back him up and do it too. We're a close family and I'm so impressed that they all wanted to take part.
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'I shan't think about the jump until the morning.
'I'm a feet-on-the-ground person and I have never been in an aeroplane, let alone jumped out of one.
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'But I will be strapped to an experienced parachutist and it's going to be fun.'
Mr Thomas, who lives on a small-holding in Wortwell, had no idea he was ill, and it was only through having a blood test for prostate problems that the cancer was discovered when he was 57.
Each year in the UK, nearly 4,000 people are diagnosed with myeloma, which is an increasingly common cancer of the plasma cells which are found in the bone marrow and which are responsible for protecting the body against infection.
There is currently no cure but newer treatments can halt myeloma for longer and improve quality of life.
The self-employed farm contractor, now 58, said his stem cell transplant was successful and he is now well enough to do the jump.
He said: 'So many people knock the NHS but I can honestly say that throughout the treatment I had there, everybody was most caring, professional and I just found them a wonderful bunch of people to be with.
'I couldn't fault them at all.
'Hopfully this is a just a little way of saying thank you.'
Also taking part in the skydive will be Mr Thomas's wife, Cherryl, their daughter, Sophie – who, at 29, will be the youngest taking part – and her hubsband, Martin.
Mr Thomas's youngest sister, Jennie Crohill, will be jumping, along with other sister, Rosie Fearnley, her son Robert and his wife, Sarah.
Anyone who would like to donate can log on to www.justgiving.com/family-skydive or can send a cheque direct to Mr Thomas at Tunbeck Farm, Wortwell, Harleston, Norfolk IP20 0HP. Cheques should be made out to 'Charity Skydive' please.