‘I may do it again for my 91st’ says skydiver Derek

Derek Sherwood does his first parachute jump for his 90th birthday with tandem instructor Matt Attridge. Pictures: Lucy Smith-Wildey

Derek Sherwood does his first parachute jump for his 90th birthday with tandem instructor Matt Attridge. Pictures: Lucy Smith-Wildey

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

WHEN Derek Sherwood was a glider pilot in the Second World War he never got to use his parachute.

So yesterday, to celebrate his 90th birthday on Thursday, he jumped out of a plane for the first time in his life.

Mr Sherwood, a retired police officer who lives in sheltered accommodation at Emden House in Headington, jumped from 10,000ft over Redlands airfield, near Swindon.

He said: “For my 80th birthday I drove a steam engine through the Chilterns.

“The other thing I might have done for this birthday was abseil off the John Radcliffe Hospital, but I’ve already done that three times, so what else could I do?

“It was super fun, they said it was the best weather they’ve had this year. I might do it again for my 91st.”

He was joined on his adventure by daughters Sue Norton and Heather Hughes.

Mrs Norton, 62, who lives in Sandford-on-Thames, said: “He’d never done a skydive before, and at that age, if that’s what he wants to do, that’s fine. He has definitely had quite a colourful life, but he’s a brilliant dad.”

Born in Lancashire, Derek was 16 when the Second World War broke out. As soon as he turned 18 he joined the RAF, and after training in Arizona for a year, was stationed at Brize Norton.

Oxford Mail:

  • The pair in mid air...

He said: “When we got back we were all gearing up to fly Spitfires or Lancasters.”

But weeks after the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944, Mr Sherwood and his fellow pilots were told they would learn to fly troop-carrying Airspeed Horsa gliders, to make up for those lost at Arnhem.

In the Glider Pilot Regiment stationed at RAF Broadwell, near Burford, he was assigned to Operation Plunder in March 1945, the crossing of the River Rhine at Wesel in Germany, part of the successful British invasion.

But his role was cancelled at the last minute when British ground forces took the field he was to help capture.

Oxford Mail:

  • ...and a safe landing

Mr Sherwood, who left the air force as a flight sergeant at the end of the war, said: “I was one of the lucky ones”.

After the war, he helped run a farm in Burford, then served as a constable with Thames Valley Police for 25 years in and around Oxford.

Mr Sherwood’s wife of 64 years, Joan, died in October after a long battle with dementia.
 

Our top stories:

Woman raped in Headington flat

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

3:24pm Saturday 20th September 2014

A WOMAN was followed into a Headington flat and raped this morning. 

Police manhunt after teenager raped in city centre

Oxford Mail:

11:57am Saturday 20th September 2014

A TEENAGER was raped in central Oxford this morning by a man she met in a nightclub.

Referendum vote gives PM a spring in his step

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 20th September 2014

WITNEY MP David Cameron has congratulated the people of Burford for organising a mock “referendum” on the issue of Scottish independence – but has admitted he was more relieved to find out the result of the actual poll.

Oxford United Wright issues warning

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 20th September 2014

Jake Wright believes it will be key for Oxford United to avoid getting dragged into a physical contest if they are to build on a midweek win when Stevenage visit today.

It's off - three-day city festival is cancelled

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 20th September 2014

A THREE-day festival set to take place on Oxford’s South Park next weekend has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales and rumours that one of its big name stars had pulled out.

Man hurt in A40 crash

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

8:40am Saturday 20th September 2014

An 85-year-old man was last night in hospital with back injuries following a crash on the A40 on Thursday.

Comments (1)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

4:53pm Sat 21 Jun 14

Myron Blatz says...

Wonder how much Derek's holiday insurance costs, if they know he keeps falling out of airplanes?
Wonder how much Derek's holiday insurance costs, if they know he keeps falling out of airplanes? Myron Blatz
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree