Giant leap: 91-year-old Sunderland veteran to make parachute jump

JUMP READY: Jack Watson.
JUMP READY: Jack Watson.
Have your say

WAR veteran Jack Watson is about to achieve his lifelong dream of a parachute jump – at the age of 91.

Jack, a former signalman who was part of the Shropshire Yeomanry in Battle of Monte Cassino during World War II, wants to take the leap to raise money for Action on Dementia Sunderland.

ARMY Jack Watson during his days in World War II for the Shropshire Yeomanry.

ARMY Jack Watson during his days in World War II for the Shropshire Yeomanry.

Jack aims to help the charity after wife Norma, 85, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease seven years ago.

The veteran, who lives with his wife in High Barnes and who helps the charity at its memory cafes, said: “I was at a meeting where we were asked to think about the things we really wanted to do.

“I’ve always wanted to do a parachute jump, so I thought I could do that. Then I thought I could do it for charity.”

Jack is now making preparations for the jump at Shotton airfield on Sunday, June 29, after doctors gave him the all-clear to parachute.

He added: “People don’t realise how much carers need support.

“I like the way Action on Dementia Sunderland is committed to spending every penny within the Sunderland area and that it is spent on services and support, which is why I wanted to fund-raise for them.” The charity say the jump by Jack, will just a small part of the remarkable life of a man who joined the Home Guard at the age of 17. In 1941, he the joined the Army where he spent five years taking part in the war effort, including one of the most fierce battles of World War II at Monte Cassino.

Jack, father to Peter, 57, and Patricia Abernethy, 52, a grandfather-of-four and a great-grandfather-of-one, made a visit to the site just weeks ago as he helped mark the 70th anniversary of the conflict. After being demobbed in 1946, Jack found work at the Co-operative Stores because he did not have a trade.

For 30 years, he was a plasterer on building sites before he spent 26 years with the gas board as a clerk collector.

Despite his age, Jack believes that age is not a big factor in his tandem parachute jump.

“You’re never too old to try to do anything. I keep young and mix with younger people. Age is just a number, so if you want to do something, just do it,” he added. Ernie Thompson, chairman of Action on Dementia Sunderland, said: “Jack is a very courageous man and we were stunned, but delighted, when he told us he was planning to do a parachute jump to raise money for the charity.”

•To sponsor Jack send cheques payable to Action on Dementia Sunderland, care of Washington Millennium Centre, The Oval, Concord, Washington, NE37 2QD, email for a sponsor form, or call 521 1438.