Daredevil gran Judith Hess to jump 5,000 feet for charity

WHILE some people in their senior years don pipe and slippers and do nothing more active than a spot of gardening, one Huntingdonshire great grandmother is proving its never too late to live dangerously.

Judith Hess of Offord Darcy has paraglided over Cyprus and rode pillion on a motorbike from Little Paxton to Oundle, and all since turning 70.

Now the mother of five is preparing for her greatest challenge to date - she will be jumping 5,000 feet from an aircraft for charity.

Like other extreme sportsmen, Mrs Hess, who turned 80 on Saturday, lives by the mantra ‘No fear’ and says she is looking forward to her death-defying leap.

She said: “I am excited about it. I am going to be doing it in tandem. I wouldn’t jump out on my own and I wouldn’t bungee jump, but I think I can do this.”

Mrs Hess think she isn’t the oldest person to have done a parachute jump. She said: “I heard a lady of 90 had done a parachute jump - I cannot imagine it. But if I am still going strong at 90, I would give it a go.”

Mrs Hess will be doing the jump to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society. Her late husband Raymond who died five and a half years ago, had the disease.

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The degenerative disorder saw Mr Hess deteriorate from slight forgetfulness to total memory loss and complete loss of faculties.

Mrs Hess, who also cared for her mother, mother-in-law and sister until their deaths, looked after her husband for ten years at home.

During that time she was given regular support from the Alzheimer’s Society, who would regularly visit her. They were in the process of organising residential care for Mr Hess when he died.

Now through the Huntingdon Alzheimer’s Society branch Mrs Hess gives support to other carers with family members suffering from the disorder.

She said: “Raymond started off forgetting things. He just seemed eccentric, then he forgot where he was and he forgot how to drive. The last year or 18 months he really went downhill.

“He forgot how to eat, and he was up at night wandering around. Even doctors do not realise how bad it can be for the person looking after someone, unless you have actually experienced it yourself.

“The Alzheimer’s support group meet once a month. Some are looking after loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and some of us have already been through it. We go and enjoy ourselves, but there is always someone you can talk to.”

Mrs Hess has already gathered �600 worth of sponsorship and is keen to raise as much as possible.

She said: “The charity is so important. More and more people are suffering from it [Alzheimer’s] now and the charity needs all the help it can get.”

INFORMATION: Judith will be doing her parachute jump on August 20 at Sibson airfield near Peterborough. Donations can be made via www.justgiving.com/jane-price1 or by calling 0845 3060898. The local Alzheimer’s Society office can be reached on 01480 415235.