Meet the 81-year-old Steyning resident who jumped out of a plane for charity 

81-year-old Steyning resident Ray Shaw skydiving in Salisbury

81-year-old Steyning resident Ray Shaw freefalling on his charity skydive earlier this month - Credit: Supplied by St Barnabas House

Octogenarian Ray Shaw, who braved a 15,000 ft skydive to raise funds for St Barnabas House, shares the secrets of keeping a keen sense of adventure in later life 

Adventure seeker Ray Shaw lives a thrilling life, taking on dare devil challenges that would bring most people half his age out in a cold sweat.  
As a case in point, to celebrate his 80th birthday last year, Ray abseiled 100 metres down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. But it’s his recent skydive in Salisbury on August 15, which he enjoyed the most. 

Ray Shaw abseiling 100 metres down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth

In 2020, adventure seeker Ray Shaw abseiled 100 metres down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth - Credit: Supplied by St Barnabas House



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‘I have no fear of heights, and really enjoy this sort of challenge,’ says Ray, who’s lived in Sussex for 32 years. ‘As I was getting ready to jump out of the plane, I’m not really sure if I thought of anything profound. I was just enjoying the whole experience. The flight up was very different to anything I'd done before.   

‘The entire experience was superb. I just wish I’d done it years ago, but very glad that I’ve ticked it off my bucket list, The free fall part was amazing and it was absolutely exhilarating.’ 
The challenge also carried a deeper meaning for Ray. He completed the jump to raise funds for St Barnabas House, which cared for his mother-in-law, Heather, at the end of her life. It’s the latest in a series of fund-raising initiatives he has carried out for the charity, which provides hospice care for patients and their families in Worthing, Adur, Arun and Henfield.  

Steyning resident Ray Shaw skydiving in Salisbury

Ray is pleased to have ticked skydiving off his wish list at the grand age of 81 - Credit: Supplied by St Barnabas House


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‘This time, I think I've raised about £600 - combining the fee for the jump and the kind donations from everyone who kindly helped through my JustGiving page,’ says Ray. ‘Without the help and kindness that St Barnabas gave us at the end of Heather’s life, we would have been lost. Their support at that time we will never be able to repay - so my wife Sue and I will continue to play our very small part in helping to keep the much-needed funds coming in.’ 
As well as being driven to give back, we asked Ray to share what fuels his lust for life.... 

Age is just a number. ‘Age isn’t something I think about very often, I don’t think you should limit your ambition because you reach a certain landmark – if you feel you can do something you should always have a go.’

Grab life by horns. ‘You should look forward to meeting another challenge, whatever that is. I don’t ever want to look back and think “I wish I had…”  My wife has suggested a Wing Walk to celebrate my 82nd birthday next June so we'll see.’ 

Make time for your passions. ‘My greatest passion is rock climbing - something I can’t do in Sussex but I can back in the Peak District, where I grew up. I don’t get to do that as often as I'd like, but I have managed to get out for a couple of days now that lockdown has ended, and I'm hoping to spend a few more days before the days get too short. I also enjoy sport climbing in Spain and Sardinia where the weather tends to be kinder.’ 

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Make time to unwind with loved ones. ‘Here in Sussex, my wife Sue and I enjoy getting out into the countryside, either walking on the downs or by the sea. We have also enjoyed many holidays both in Europe and further afield and we both hope to be planning another adventure next year.’ 

It’s never too late to learn new skills. ‘Most recently, I've taken up woodturning and have been spending quite a bit of my time in my workshop getting to grips with this new skill. I enjoy that a lot.’  

Check out Ray’s JustGiving page or, to take on a charity skydive for St Barnabas House, see stbh.org.uk/skydives

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