81-year-old Longhill man Gordon Lazarus fulfils lifetime ambition with skydive
STANDING at the open door of a plane, 81-year-old Gordon Lazarus felt no fear.
His determination to jump from 15,000ft was all the more impressive because the partially sighted pensioner could not see the ground.
Mr Lazarus did a skydive to raise money for sight charity Herib after it helped him come to terms with his health issues.
"Because I'm partially sighted, when I looked down from 15,000ft I couldn't really see the land," he said.
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The former Royal and Merchant Navy catering officer has had a lifetime of adventure but the jump was his most daring experience.
"I've never done anything as reckless before – although I jumped into the Suez Canal when I was at sea," he said.
Mr Lazarus, of Longhill, was inspired to do his jump at Hibaldstow Airfield when he saw foreign skydivers while travelling in Europe.
"I've always wanted to do one. I used to tour in Austria and Switzerland," he said.
"I saw people jumping off mountains and thought: 'One day I will do something like that'."
His skydive was delayed twice because of high winds.
"We would have done it on Wednesday but the wind was so strong, they sent everybody home," Mr Lazarus said.
He eventually managed to jump on Thursday at 9am.
"You're sitting in this open doorway in the clouds and you can barely see the ground," he said.
"Once you've jumped off, it's freefall for a minute at 120mph.
"That was a bit startling and a bit cold and a bit noisy but once the chute opened it was fun."
Jumping in tandem with instructor Andy Wezley, Mr Lazarus fell from 15,000ft – the greatest height offered by UK parachuting companies.
When the chute opened, he was able to admire views across the East Riding and Lincolnshire.
"When we stopped freefalling and the chute opened, everything went quiet and I was floating on a cloud," he said.
"I could see the countryside, the coast and Lincoln Cathedral."
Mr Lazarus's wife Vera was able to easily spot him coming down through the clouds.
"There was a team on board all dressed in white leather – very swish," he said.
"But they were a competition team who jumped before me. The wife and my friends knew it was me because I came down on my own."
Mr Lazarus's tandem partner Andy Wezley helped to calm pre-jump nerves.
"I would do it again, provided I could it with Andy," Mr Lazarus said. "I didn't feel one bit of apprehension thanks to him.
"He was so kind and well-spoken. He was asking me if I was ok all the way down.
"It was made easy by the fact he was so good. I forgot he was there – it was like I was doing it myself."
Andy has completed more than 4,500 jumps, 3,000 of them in tandem.
"The job satisfaction for me is people like Gordon going away with a big smile on their face and thinking 'I put that there'," he said. "You remember it for years."
Mr Lazarus raised about £1,000 for Herib.
"The sponsorship was unbelievable," he said. "I would sit on a bus and talk to someone about it and they would start to give me money. The chaps I was at sea with 28 years ago were giving me money as well."
He said the charity had made a huge difference in his struggles with sight.
He said: "I don't know what the partially sighted and blind people would do in Hull without that place, to be quite honest.
"It's all self-funded and they need all the money they can get."
Herib marketing manager Angela Gregory thanked him for the money.
"This is a wonderful achievement," she said.
The skydive will not be Mr Lazarus's last adventure.
"I'm thinking about doing a hot coal walk in October," he said.