News

101-Year-Old D-Day Veteran Becomes World's Oldest Skydiver

Bryson William Verdun Hayes, known as Verdun, smashed the world record on Sunday, completing a tandem skydive with three generations of his...

Video courtesy: SWNS.

A D-Day veteran has become the world's oldest person to skydive, after he jumped 15,000 ft, at the age of 101 and 38 days old.

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.

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 replied with that he was "absolutely" looking forward to the experience.

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.

Verdun Hayes
The former Royal Signals lance corporal said he was feeling "absolutely over the moon" at completing the challenge. Picture: SWNS.

He was joined on the skydive by four members of his family.

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, and sustained shrapnel injuries to his ribs and hands after being involved in an explosion that killed his friend.

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

"I lost any amount of friends in no time at all really. I just didn't think I would ever return home."

A charity spokesman said Mr Hayes would now be celebrating with a glass of champagne, and that the money raised recognised "the service and sacrifice made across all generations of the British Armed Forces".

Members of the family have separate online donation pages but Mr Hayes, who hoped to raise £1,000 has already beaten his target.

Tags