A bus driver took to the skies to help a much-loved community church in need of urgent repairs.
Despite not being fond of heights, 61-year-old Alan Beck decided to take part in a 15,000ft tandem parachute jump at Peterlee Parachute Centre, on Shotton Airfield, to help raise funds for the Holy Trinity Church roof in South Hetton.
After an hour’s training, and a delay due to fog, Alan and 12 fellow jumpers took the plunge in front of family and friends, eventually raising £4,000 in sponsorship.
“There were times during the last few weeks when it suddenly hit me what I had planned to do,” said Alan.
“However, when it came to the day, I was quite relaxed and feeling really good about it.
“My original date for the jump was changed due to bad weather, and although I could have jumped 10,000ft, I really wanted to do the full 15,000ft jump that I had been sponsored for, or I would have really regretted it.
Alan, who has worked for bus operator Stagecoach North East for the past 35 years at the Sunderland depot, spent weeks visiting members of the South Hetton community to talk to them about the church.
The roof at the church is in desperate need of repair due to extreme bad weather and will not survive another winter.
So, £10,500 must be found for immediate restoration work, but with costs for additional long-term repairs, the total bill will be £35,000.
Although now living in Washington, Alan used to live in South Hetton and after accompanying his dad to church every week, he became a regular member of the congregation and then a church warden.