John, 90, takes on skydive for charity

Most people plan to celebrate their 90th birthday with a nice piece of cake, but not retired Ravenshead teacher John Hallett who decided to mark the milestone with a skydive.

Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 1:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 1:10 pm

Despite losing most of his eyesight and his hearing, John took the 13,500 foot leap to raise money for My Sight Notts - the charity that helped him when his sight failed.

He was joined for the jump by his grandson who lost some of his hearing after serving in Afghanistan.

John said: “Looking on the bright side I couldn’t see how far up I was or how far it was down to the ground.”

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John, who spent many years working in schools often in war-torn countries like Kosovo, Liberia and Iraq, explained: “I’ve worked in some very scary places in my long career in education but nothing prepared me for the devastating and life-changing challenges of going blind and My Sight Notts was there to pick up the pieces and help me get back on my feet.

“When I started to notice my eyesight deteriorating to the point where I could no longer see to read and write or travel independently it was a real blow, leading to feelings of frustration.”

John was diagnosed with age-related macular disease at the age of 86, leading him to worry that his colourful career, which had seen him work in 17 different countries and publish several books, was over.

John said: “How could I research and write more books when my eyesight was so poor that it took me 30 minutes just to write a short email?

“You might say that I’d had a long and interesting life and at 86 it was time to take it easy, but my mind was still active and I needed to feel useful.”

It was at around this time that John was put in touch with My Sight Notts.

The charity provided him with advice about computer access software that helped him see his computer screen, magnification aids to help with reading, better lighting and sticky labels to go over the keys on his computer so that he could see them more easily.

John added: “The charity does a cracking job and leaping out of an aeroplane to raise money for it is my way of giving something back as a big thank you for all the help it has given me.”