Watch: D-Day veteran breaks skydive record - aged 101

0
Have your say

A D-Day veteran who jumped 15,000ft from an aeroplane has become the oldest person in the world to skydive - at the age of 101 and 38 days.

Bryson William Verdun Hayes, known as Verdun, smashed the current world record on Sunday, completing a tandem skydive with three generations of his family at an airfield in Honiton, Devon.

Bryson William Verdun Hayes during his tandem skydive, as he became the oldest person in the world to jump 15,000ft from an aeroplane, at the age of 101 and 38 days. Photo: Skydive Buzz/PA

Bryson William Verdun Hayes during his tandem skydive, as he became the oldest person in the world to jump 15,000ft from an aeroplane, at the age of 101 and 38 days. Photo: Skydive Buzz/PA

Speaking as he touched down, the former lance corporal in the Royal Signals said "hooray" and added that he was feeling "absolutely over the moon" at completing the challenge.

The great-grandfather only tried skydiving for the first time last year when he reached 100 but breaking the British record for the oldest skydiver was not enough for him.

Mr Hayes, who said a parachute jump was something he had wanted to do since he turned 90 - but was talked out of it then by his late wife - was determined to take the world record and beat its previous holder, Canadian Armand Gendreau who skydived in June 2013 aged 101 and three days.

When asked how he was feeling prior to Sunday's jump, Mr Hayes, who needed a helping hand to navigate his way into the aircraft, replied with a stoic "alright" and said he was "absolutely" looking forward to the experience.

Bryson William Verdun Hayes ahead of his tandem skydive, as he became the oldest person in the world to jump 15,000ft from an aeroplane, at the age of 101 and 38 days. Photo: Skydive Buzz/PA

Bryson William Verdun Hayes ahead of his tandem skydive, as he became the oldest person in the world to jump 15,000ft from an aeroplane, at the age of 101 and 38 days. Photo: Skydive Buzz/PA

The widower took to the skies with 10 members of his family at Skydive Buzz in Dunkeswell, all raising money for the Royal British Legion.

The youngest skydiver was Stanley, 16, Mr Hayes' great-grandson, while his grandson Roger, 50, son Bryan, 74 and great-granddaughter Ellie, 21, were also among those who took the leap.

Speaking prior to the skydive, his daughter, Lin Tattersall, said: "He's made up his own mind that he wants to do it again, and I am extremely proud of the reasoning behind it."

Mr Hayes, from Croyde, Devon, served in the Army during the Second World War and was presented with a Legion d'honneur for his heroic actions in Holland, Belgium, Germany and in Normandy, France.

He was named Verdun after his father Joseph Hayes, who served in the First World War as a Sapper with the Royal Engineers and who fought during the Battle of the Somme, wrote home to his pregnant wife Mary from the front line suggesting they call their child Verdun after the 1916 battle.

Mr Hayes himself served as a signaller and wireless operator for the Royal Signals during the Second World War.

He returned to Normandy in 2016 as a beneficiary of the Royal British Legion's Remembrance Travel arm.

During the war, Mr Hayes sustained shrapnel injuries to his ribs and hands after being involved in an explosion that killed his friend, Sgt Edgar Robertson.

He said: "How I came home from World War Two I do not know.

"I was so near to the edge of everything. I lost any amount of friends in no time at all really. I just didn't think I would ever return home."

A spokesman for the Royal British Legion said Mr Hayes would now be celebrating with a glass of champagne.

He said: "We are very proud of Verdun's achievements and his family's support for the Royal British Legion and the money raised recognises the service and sacrifice made across all generations of the British Armed Forces.

"The money raised will help support individuals and families from across the generations of our armed forces community."

Members of the family have separate online donation pages but Mr Hayes, who hoped to raise £1,000 has already beaten his target and the current total on Virgin Money Giving stands at more than £1,600.

Man wearing cone caught on dash cam

Cone you believe this?