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95 year old grandfather completes epic wing walk to raise vital funds for Thames Hospice

21-06-2023
Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Last Tuesday, 20 June 2023, John Symmonds from Warfield in Berkshire took to the skies strapped to the wing of a plane to raise vital funds for Thames Hospice in memory for his beloved late wife Ann.

Thames Hospice is very close to John’s heart after the charity cared for Ann at their home in 2021. John said: “The palliative team were so good to us, coming out any time of the day or night to make sure that Ann was comfortable and without pain as far as possible.

"It took a lot of worry from me. Ann did not want to go in to a hospital, she wanted to be at home and Thames Hospice allowed her to do that. They were there right at the end when she just slipped away. I know it sounds peculiar, but it was a sort of a wonderful moment really. To have their support, that's why I did it." 

After touching back down to earth at Rendcomb Airfield, in Gloucestershire, John said of his wing walk: "It was great; slightly more bumpy than I thought it was going to be. It was very windy and my earplugs I was given, they were the first to go in about two seconds, but it was good, quite an experience."

John added: "Originally I was going to do something a bit more 'normal' but I thought that's really not going to cut it, so I went for a wing walk. The first person I told was one of my grandchildren and I told them not to tell anybody because I may chicken out of it in the end. But then I told somebody else, and somebody else so, of course, in the end you've got to do it. I was looking forward to it and it lived up to what I thought it was going to be."

John, or #WingmanJohn as Thames Hospice now likes to call its incredible fundraiser, could even be set for a Guinness World Record as the oldest wing walker after his flight. 

Emma Andrews, Events Fundraiser at Thames Hospice said: “We are all so proud of our #WingmanJohn. He is a legend and I was so thrilled to be there, along with his wonderful family, to watch his wing walk. It was a very emotional day and one I will never forget."

#WingmanJohn has raised almost £6,000 so far through his JustGiving page. He said: “Please do sponsor me by donating what you can. Your generosity will ensure Thames Hospice is able to support many more families like mine and give others, like Ann, the dignity and compassion they deserve.”

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