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80-year-old man walks on wings of an aircraft in memory of his late wife

An 80-year-old ex-paramedic walked on the wings of aircraft in Barnstaple, Devon, for a fundraiser memory of his late wife.

Walking on the wings
Walking on the wings

John Stanley swore he would do all he could to pay back the hospice for looking after his late wife, Pam.

North Devon Hospice took care of her when she was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer before her death in 2008.

Mr Stanley has earlier abseiled, skydived and ridden a motorbike to the country’s length to generate funds. He shared that this was the perfect way to celebrate his turning 80. He worked as a paramedic based in Barnstaple, North Devon, where he met his wife.

“She was in A&E on the desk, and there was always a bit of banter between the paramedics and medical staff. We got chatting, she was divorced and one thing led to another – it came to the Christmas A&E do, and she invited me to come with her. It went on from there and, eventually, we got married.”

The couple had 25 years of stay together before her death. Mr Stanley said, “I promised her when she was terminally ill that I would repay the hospice by doing things for them. I’ve worked in their shops, I’ve gone out with vans and picked up furniture for their shops, and I’ve worked at the hospice serving meals to the patients and done maintenance work there.”

Mr Stanley has raised thousands of pounds for the aid over the years, including riding an old motorbike from Land’s End to John O’Groats, doing several abseils and a skydive. After watching somebody carry out the feat on television, he was encouraged to try the wing walk at Dunkeswell Airfield, Honiton. Mr Stanley, who worked with the RAF before joining the NHS, said he started singing while wing walking and wishes to do it all again for his 90th birthday.

He also mentioned that he did not know where he would be in the absence of his current wife, Annie, who supports him with all of his fundraising efforts.

A keen motorcyclist, Mr Stanley wishes to continue with his fundraising and is looking for new ideas.

“I would like to go zip-wiring in north Wales,” he added.

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