Knaresborough pensioner’s skydiving challenge

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A pensioner from Knaresborough has taken to the skies to raise money for the cancer unit at the hospital which cared for both him and his wife.

Alan Baird was diagnosed with kidney and pancreatic cancer in 2004 and 2005 and treated successfully at Harrogate District Hospital, while his wife Reita Baird received treatment for Myeloma at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre.

The couple were so impressed with the care they received at the hospital and the new cancer centre in particular, they wanted to give something back.

Mr Baird, now 78, took part in a charity skydive on April 19 to raise money for the unit which cared for them both so well.

“It was very nice!” he said. “It’s the second one I’ve done. There is a moment, when you’re sitting in the door looking down, but it’s exciting.

“I wanted to do something,” he added.

“I don’t run, I don’t climb. Skydiving might not be everybody’s cup of tea - but I like it! Wing walking next....”

Mr and Mrs Baird, who between them have five children, 10 grandchildren and seven great-grand children, used to live in the Oakdale area of Harrogate but now live in Stockwell Lodge in Knaresborough.

The retired long-distance lorry driver has now raised £700 towards his £1,000 fundraising goal.

“It’s hugely important to give something back,” he said. “The nursing care I received was 100 per cent.

“I was in hospital for three months last time, and the nurses went beyond to help me. And they’ve really taken care of my wife.”

Reita, 71, said: “I wouldn’t be here without the staff at the centre.

“It’s not a position you want to find yourself in, but the staff couldn’t have been better.

“We can’t thank them enough.”

The £9 million Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre was opened officially in October by the Countess of Halifax, President of Macmillan Cancer Support and Christine Talbot from ITV’s Calendar, who has had her own cancer experience.

It was funded through a £3.5 million personal donation from Sir Robert Ogden, £3.5 million from Macmillan Cancer Support and a further £2 million from Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust.

Anyone who wishes to sponsor Alan on his sky dive can do so by searching for “Alan Baird skydive” on