81-year-old Whitley Bay woman to skydive in aid of St Oswald’s Hospice

Nancy Rutherford, 81, will leap from a plane in a bid to brighten up life after her husband's death and raise money for charity

Nancy Rutherford 81, of Whitley Bay who is to do a skydive in aid of St Oswald's
Nancy Rutherford 81, of Whitley Bay who is to do a skydive in aid of St Oswald's

A daredevil grandma will leap from the skies after dreaming up the ‘daftest’ challenge she could think of.

Frustrated at her own lack of get-up and go after her husband’s death, Nancy Rutherford, 81, decided to skydive from a plane for charity.

The grandma-of-six, who lives in Whitley Bay, said that since her husband Ivan died suddenly in 2011 she had let life slip by and wanted one last thrill. She said: “My husband died three years ago and I thought ‘what have I done with my life since?’.

“I just thought ‘what’s the daftest thing I can do?’ I’m scared of heights, I can’t even go down the escalator at the Haymarket Metro, but it’s something I’m determined to do.”

The courageous pensioner has so far raised £690 for St Oswald’s Hospice in Gosforth, Newcastle, where she has previously worked as a volunteer at their shop in Whitley Bay and hopes many more people will support her efforts before her leap in a month’s time.

Nancy’s husband Ivan, who was a detective with Northumbria Police, died aged 77 after 52 years of marriage. She said: “He was well known, and a very nice man. He would have called me daft and I’m not sure he would have let me do it but maybe he’s sitting there on the clouds saying ‘go for it lass!”

Nancy grew up in Scremerston Colliery in County Durham and worked as a WREN in her younger days. After marrying Ivan she moved with him as he took up police jobs in Alnwick, Wallsend and Whitley Bay and she brought up their three children John, Jane and Margaret.

Her son and two daughters and their partners will all be there to watch her parachute into Shotton airfield at Peterlee in County Durham on April 6 and her six grandchildren have also been helping out where they can.

Granddaughter Laura Swan, 22, of Whitley Lodge, has drummed up support for her impressive relative from customers of The Monkseaton Arms where she works part-time.

The pub has created a real ale created in her honour called Supergran with a special font badge with her picture on. It’s planned that 10p from every pint sold will go towards the hospice.

“What’s to be frightened about? The guys at the airfield jump out of planes all the time,” added Nancy. “I’ll shout ‘geronimo’! on my way down.”

To donate to Nancy’s fundraising efforts online visit website www.justgiving.com/NancyRutherford . Cheques can also be made out to St Oswald’s Hospice and sent c/o Margaret Swan to 41 Kingston Drive, Whitley Lodge, Whitley Bay, NE26 1JJ.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer