LEIGHTON Freeman will freefall from 10,000ft on Sunday in memory of his late father and ‘skydiver spotter’ who never missed a chance to watch daredevils jump off planes at a nearby airfield.
As Dave Freeman’s health swiftly deteriorated after being diagnosed with mesothelioma in July 2013, a rare cancer caused by his exposure to asbestos, the plumbing and heating engineer became housebound.
But even from the comfort of his garden in Stratton, the former Swindon Town Football Club reserve player continued to observe skydivers taking the plunge for Prospect Hospice – the charity which cared for him through his illness – at the nearby Redlands Airfield through his binoculars.
Dave, who always wished he had given it a try himself, died at the age of 65, in December 2013.
His son Leighton, 36, initially signed up to skydive on March 2, which would have coincided with Dave’s birthday on February 29 and his own, on March 1.
Yet due to poor weather the challenge was postponed until this month.
“Dad often said to me that he wished he’d done a skydive, and enjoyed whiling away a few hours watching the skydivers either at Redlands Airfield or from the comfort of his back garden,” he said.
“When I saw that the Prospect Hospice, who provided pain control for dad after his diagnosis and also cared for him during his admission during December 2013, were arranging a Parachute for Prospect day on what would have been our birthday weekend, I felt that it was fate and was compelled to register.
“Unfortunately, the awful weather prevented us from jumping on March 2 and so we’ve rebooked for this Sunday, when hopefully the sun will shine for us.
“It would be great to see a lot of people there supporting this worthwhile cause that’s so close to our hearts and so many others in the Swindon area.”
The father-of-two, from Cardiff, will be joined by friends Craig Waldron and Steve Graham for the big jump. So far the trio have raised £5,000 for Prospect.
Dave’s widow Janet was delighted with her son’s decision to skydive for the Wroughton charity and pay one last tribute to his father.
“Dave said he would have like to have done a skydive,” said the 61-year-old. “He used to watch the skydivers come down with his binoculars.
“His health deteriorated very quickly. It was all very sudden. We had a lot of support from Prospect. A kind lady from Prospect called Sue Dunn helped us. I could phone her and she dealt with all the pain-control and if Dave had a bad night she would come out to see us. We needed help quickly and she was excellent. Knowing someone was there 24/7 was very reassuring.”