Veteran, 95, undergoes parachute challenge in name of charity

John Jeffries with Red Devils Display Team members. Picture by Tom Collins.
John Jeffries with Red Devils Display Team members. Picture by Tom Collins.
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A Second World War veteran took to the skies at a parachute centre - at the age of 95.

Former Parachute Regiment soldier John Jeffries took part in a parachute jump at Peterlee Parachute Centre, Shotton Colliery, alongside the Army’s famous Red Devils.

John Jeffries with Red Devils Display Team members, former Parachute Regiment members and Blood Bike members. Picture by Tom Collins.

John Jeffries with Red Devils Display Team members, former Parachute Regiment members and Blood Bike members. Picture by Tom Collins.

John also jumped at the Battle of Arnhem during the Second World War – when he was shot by a sniper.

He will be returning to Arnhem for his second jump in a week on Friday.

The dad-of-two and grandad-of-three is raising funds for the Northumbria Blood Bikes charity, and has already raised more than £1,000.

Daughter Lynn Tomkinson said: “My father and myself were out in Normandy for the V Day commemorations, and the Red Devils were there.

At times I was scared stiff, but it was brilliant

John Jeffries

“They saw my father had the red beret on and had the Arnhem badge.

“They asked if he would jump with them, and he said he’d love to.

“The people at Peterlee said they knew the Red Devils, so we decided to do it there.

“It was absolutely brilliant.

John Jeffries will take part in another parachute jump on Friday. Picture by Tom Collins.

John Jeffries will take part in another parachute jump on Friday. Picture by Tom Collins.

“The last time he did it was on September 18, 1944, so it was quite a thing for him to do it again, especially at the age of 95.”

John said: “I really enjoyed it.

“At times I was scared stiff, but it was brilliant.”

John, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, was in the Royal Signals before joining the Parachute Regiment.

John Jeffries with Red Devils Display Team members. Picture by Tom Collins.

John Jeffries with Red Devils Display Team members. Picture by Tom Collins.

Friday’s jump in Arnhem is set to be a major event for him.

Lynn added: “He is jumping again next Friday in Arnhem, where he did it in 1944.

“This time he won’t have people shooting at him, because he was hit by a sniper last time.

“He’s a very active 95-year-old and certainly doesn’t act like he’s in his 90s.

“The money raised is going to a great cause and we’ve hit the £1,000 mark already.

“We’re really hoping that will continue to rise in the weeks ahead.”

John is a father to Lynn and her brother Paul, and a grandfather to Thomas, Katie and Emma.