Third time lucky for daredevil council leader

It was a case of third time lucky for a senior councillor who finally got to take the plunge as part of his fund-raising work.

By Kevin Clark
Monday, 20 May, 2019, 15:10
Coun Lethbridge during his skydive

Durham County Council’s outgoing Chairman Coun John Lethbridge had arranged to perform a skydive as the final act of his year in office, and to complete his ceremonial fundraisingefforts for The Royal British Legion.

The former teacher, who represents the Woodhouse Close ward, arranged his skydive only for weather conditions to force a postponement – on two separate occasions.

About to jump...

However, the weather was finally on his side on date number three, allowing him to finally go through with his daredevil feat at the Peterlee Skydiving Academy at the third time ofasking earlier this month.

The grandfather-of-two leapt out of a plane strapped to a parachute instructor, from a height of some 16,000 feet.

In a matter of minutes, Coun Lethbridge had landed safely on the ground, having experienced a rollercoaster of emotions.

The Chairman, who had admitted the skydive would ‘stretch my comfort zone to its furthest limits,’ said: "It was really frustrating to not be able to go ahead because ofthe weather, not just once but twice. So it was a relief to finally be able to go ahead at the third time of asking.

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Coun Lethbridge (right) with parachute instructor Mick Cosgrove

"Before going up in the plane I felt fine but I must admit the moments before and after the jump were somewhat nerve-wracking. I had chosen to do it from 10,000 feet but ended upjumping from 16,000.

"To fall at 120mph was something I will never forget. The views of County Durham and the coastline were really quite spectacular and by the time I touched the ground I had got overthe nerves and was fully enjoying the experience."

Coun Lethbridge had hoped to raise £1,000 for the Legion – the charity he has supported throughout his year in office – but has surpassed that and is continuing to receivedonations all the time.

He said: "I am so grateful to everyone who has sponsored me. Their money will go to a brilliant charity which is a great way of giving back to those who have given so much to usall."

Coun Lethbridge with pilot Tony Cowan (left) and parachute instructor Mick Cosgrove (right.)

People can still sponsor the Chairman and in doing so support the work of the Royal British Legion at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-lethbridge