Intrepid pensioners reach for the sky

A RETIRED couple with a combined age of 137 are preparing to take the plunge in a daring stunt for charity. Art and Esther Bates, from Hilton, will launch themselves from a plane in aid of the Action Medical Research charity. It seemed the natural thing

A RETIRED couple with a combined age of 137 are preparing to take the plunge in a daring stunt for charity.

Art and Esther Bates, from Hilton, will launch themselves from a plane in aid of the Action Medical Research charity.

"It seemed the natural thing to do having trekked across Iceland earlier this year," Art, 72, said. "We raised more than £5,000 for that adventure and when we got back some bright spark suggested that we go and do a skydive."

Art, a retired communications engineer, said he was looking forward to Saturday's jump - the day before his 73rd birthday - and had no reservations about it.

He said: "It is about doing something out of the ordinary and Action Medical Research is a very worthy cause.

"They do not just focus on one particular condition but support all sorts of medical issues - from hip replacements to inoculations.

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"This year I am asking that no-one give me any presents, just show me the money."

Art admitted that his doctor had expressed some surprise when he had taken her a form to sign stating that he was fit to jump.

"She said you are bloody mad but there's your signature," he said.

Esther and Art have been married for 41 years after meeting when Esther was working as a midwife in Stevenage.

Esther, 65, walked the Great Wall of China in 2005 for Action Medical Research and the idea for the skydive adventure came from one of her friends at the Women's Institute.

Rather than taking time out to recuperate after the jump, Art and Esther are planning to attend a dinner/dance at the Caledonian Society in Huntingdon on Saturday evening.

INFORMATION: To sponsor Art and Esther, visit www.action.org.uk/~ArtandEstherBates

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