Cancer survivor, 83, takes the plunge for charity

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 January 2020

Derek Hunt skydive. Picture: Skydive Geronimo Rottnest

Derek Hunt skydive. Picture: Skydive Geronimo Rottnest

Skydive Geronimo Rottnest

When Budleigh Salterton man Derek Hunt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and a cancerous kidney, in 2013, his prognosis was uncertain.

Derek Hunt skydive. Picture: Skydive Geronimo RottnestDerek Hunt skydive. Picture: Skydive Geronimo Rottnest

One thing he almost certainly did not expect was that, six years later at the age of 83, he would be jumping out of a plane from 14,000 feet above an island in Western Australia.

"I've had some very strong comments from my friends about my sanity," he admitted.

But Mr Hunt was keen to undertake the skydive to raise money for two charities that supported him during his treatment and recovery, Pancreatic Cancer UK and Kidney Care UK.

He also wants to give hope to other people diagnosed with similar conditions.

Derek Hunt skydive. Skydive Geronimo RottnestDerek Hunt skydive. Skydive Geronimo Rottnest

So far he has raised £2,700 through the Virgin Giving site and direct donations.

Mr Hunt, a former civil servant, underwent an eight-hour operation on his pancreas, and also had the cancerous kidney removed.

In 2015 he lost the function of his other kidney, and now needs 12 hours' dialysis every week, which he receives at the Honiton kidney unit.

"But the best part is that I survived it, and so far well ahead of the statistics, so I've been very lucky," he said.

Derek Hunt skydive. Picture: Skydive Geronimo RottnestDerek Hunt skydive. Picture: Skydive Geronimo Rottnest

"I would like to perhaps encourage people that there is a good chance to survive all these setbacks, and hopefully someone will take courage from it."

The idea for the skydive arose from a previous visit to his family in Western Australia, when his grandchildren did the parachute jump.

After checking with his kidney specialist he arranged to carry out a tandem skydive with his grandson's father-in-law over Rottnest Island on December 28.

"Going down during the skydive bit, you're going rather fast and the wind in your face makes you look like one of those horror films," he said.

Derek Hunt skydive. Picture: Skydive Geronimo RottnestDerek Hunt skydive. Picture: Skydive Geronimo Rottnest

"I was so preoccupied with doing what I was supposed to do, I didn't really take it in.

"The parachute opens at 5,000 to 4,000 feet and then you're floating down quite gently and you've got plenty of time to look at the scenery and enjoy the view.

"When I got down there was a slight sense of relief, I think I said, 'I've done it!'".

Visit Virgin Money Giving here to support Derek's fundraising.

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