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Jumping from the heavens

John Gudgeon (Windmill 1957) is part of a daring congregation prepared to go to extreme measures to raise money for a church blighted by metal thieves.

Members of St John’s Church, on Station Road, Thornton, have taken on challenges including sky dives and scaling iconic heights to help raise £100,000 needed to replace a roof twice stripped of copper by thieves.

John Gudgeon, 73, of Ormont Avenue, Cleveleys, jumped from 14,000ft to complete a tandem skydive in Lancaster and raise £1,005.

He said: “I should’ve done this 50 years ago because I was in the Parachute Regiment reserves when I worked in London but I couldn’t do it because I was lying in a hospital bed with pneumonia.

“Fifty years down the line I knew the church wanted the money, so thought I’d do this.

“We want to try to repair the church and get it back to what is was before the vandalism.

“It was a fantastic day and I came out of the plane at 120mph and was able to guide the parachute down to the drop zone.

“As we came down, the parachute started to spin and my stomach was going up and down, side to side.”

Members of the church have so far raised £88,000 to put Terne coated stainless steel on the roof to deter vandals after it was first stripped of copper in July 2011 and again a year later.

Other acts of kindness involved Leslie and Francesca Slack, a mother and daughter from Thornton, climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge to raise £560.

The rest of the cash has been raised through donations and table-top sales.

Rev Paul Clemence said: “It’s wonderful they have taken it upon themselves to do this and in John’s case it is a dream come true for him.”


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