Forfar woman’s first parachute jump sponsored by Scotland’s oldest skydiver

Courier News. Scott Milne story. Scotland’s oldest skydiver, Derek Thorne is sponsoring Deborah Garland, who is doing a jump to raise money for the Salvation Army Building Fund next year (March 3rd is proposed date). Pic shows; Derek Thorne giving Deborah Garland some poointers. Thursday, 22nd December, 2017.

An Angus daredevil is taking tips on how to throw herself out of a plane from Scotland’s oldest skydiver.

Deborah Garland will be taking to the air later this year to attempt her first dive in aid of Dundee’s Salvation Army.

The Forfar 19-year-old is being sponsored by Derek Throne who, at 77, has more than 4,000 leaps under his belt.

Originally from Stoke on Trent, Derek has lived in Forfar for the past two decades, making him Scotland’s oldest skydiver.

He reckons he would be the oldest in the UK if it wasn’t for an 80-year-old London woman who still enjoys parachuting.

Deborah, a Glasgow University student, said she was pleased to have the support of her veteran sponsor as she prepares for her debut dive.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said. “The closest was an aerial assault course which involved being high up in trees.

“It’s slightly intimating and nerve-racking, but I am more excited than anything else.

“I have been going to the Salvation Army for as long as I can remember. Both my grandparents on my mother’s side were officers so there is a family connection and I’ve still got links to it.

“A skydive is something I have always wanted to do. I’m looking forward to the adrenaline rush and to be able to see the world from up there.

“I’m sure there will a rush from the free fall and then I can enjoy the view.”

Derek has jumped above every continent except Antarctica and Australasia, making his first descent in 1960 and completing more than 4,000 since then.

One of his more memorable descents was into Ibrox Stadium for the 1997 Scottish Cup final between Kilmarnock and Falkirk. He has also jumped into Murrayfield with flags on a number of occasions.

He joined Fife Parachute Centre, now called Paragon Skydiving Club, in 1990 as chief instructor.

The former parachute regiment soldier said he was glad to lend his support to Deborah’s rookie effort.

“The cause is very close to my heart. I class myself as a Salvationist,” he added.

Deborah is looking to raise £1,000 for the cause and donations can be made on her JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dundee-building-fund.

Donations can also be made to Major Holly Needham at the Dundee Salvation Army base in Thurso Crescent.

Deborah will be doing her jump, weather permitting, on March 3 at Paragon Skydiving Club, Errol.

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