Parachute jump for pensioner

PUBLISHED: 14:34 01 February 2007 | UPDATED: 10:08 31 May 2010

Alan Mussard by Thaxted’s windmill – Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Alan Mussard by Thaxted's windmill - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

INSPIRATIONAL grandfather-of-eight, Alan Mussard, is taking to the skies for a sponsored parachute jump - at the grand age of 77. Mr Mussard, who lives in the Humfrey Lodge residential home in Thaxted, will be doing a 10,000ft tandem skydive to raise mone

INSPIRATIONAL grandfather-of-eight, Alan Mussard, is taking to the skies for a sponsored parachute jump - at the grand age of 77.

Mr Mussard, who lives in the Humfrey Lodge residential home in Thaxted, will be doing a 10,000ft tandem skydive to raise money for the charity Leukaemia Care.

The retired employee of the Ministry of Agriculture is hoping to raise at least £500 for the charity, which is particularly close to his heart as he suffers from the disease himself.

Mr Mussard explained that he tried to take part in a sponsored skydive last year, but his doctor intervened.

"I had been hoping to do the jump in aid of Cancer Research last year but my GP said that I couldn't as I was suffering with angina.

"This time it's definite though, and I'll be doing the jump in March."

Following a coronary angioplasty earlier this month, Mr Mussard has been given the all clear and is more than ready to take on the challenge.

In preparation for the jump, he has been undergoing an intensive training routine.

"To prepare, I've been drinking a lot of whisky," said Mr Mussard.

"Really though, it's just one day of training, but I've been up in planes before and flown gliders, so I've got some experience of aviation.

"When I was 15 or 16, I used to go up in the bombers with American pilots on training exercises.

"We wore parachutes then, but I never needed to use one!"

Mr Mussard's three sons, Peter, Stephen and Daniel, and his eight grandchildren are all supporting his endeavour.

"My sons think I'm mad," he said, "my youngest, Daniel, did a jump a few years ago, but not from the same height. "Fortunately I don't have a fear of heights, so that won't cause me any problems."

Mr Mussard has lived in Thaxted for the last 40 years. His late wife, Pat, was a schoolteacher at the village primary school for 25 years.

After growing up on two farms, Mr Mussard worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and spent time working in Uganda and Czechoslovakia.

Although he suffers with leukaemia, Mr Mussard's illness is quiescent and he is not currently taking any treatment for it.

To sponsor Mr Mussard for his skydive, drop into the Reporter office on Saffron Walden High Street, where there is a sponsorship form.

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