Charity skydive for Knaresborough pensioner

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A pensioner from Knaresborough is to take on a parachute challenge 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 received treatment for Myeloma at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre.

The couple, of Stockwell Lodge in Knaresborough, have been so impressed with the care that they received at the hospital and the new cancer centre in particular, that they wanted to give something back.

Mr Baird, now 78, set up a skydive in November last year in an attempt to raise £1,000, but it was cancelled at the last minute as the plane wasn’t air-worthy.

He has now re-scheduled the challenge for April 19.

“Both Reita and I have been cancer patients at Harrogate District Hospital,” he said.

“The care given by the whole team has been exceptional and we wanted to do our bit to say thank you to the wonderful staff.

“We have been particularly impressed by the new Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre where Reita is currently receiving her treatment. It seemed right to raise some money to support the work that it does.

“I have done a sky dive before and although some people are surprised by me taking on another at my age, I don’t believe that age is any barrier to doing what you want to.”

The now retired long-distance lorry driver has already raised £600 towards his £1,000 fundraising goal.

Mrs Baird, 71, said: “We wanted to give a bit back. 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.”

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

The £9m Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at Harrogate District Hospital was opened officially in October last year.