A pensioner who dubs himself an adrenaline junkie is to celebrate his 80th birthday next week with a 300-metre zip wire ride.
Grandad Ian Jepps is planning the daredevil exploit to raise cash for a cause close to his heart: people suffering from leprosy.
As well as completing the longest zip wire challenge on the south coast - 300 metres along Brighton sea front - grandad of four Ian will also be completing a daring 24-metre drop to mark his milestone birthday.
Ian, who lives with his wife Pauline, 79, at Slinfold, near Horsham, said: “Birthdays are associated with presents but this birthday I wanted to give a present to the people who will most benefit.”
He and Pauline became fundraisers for The Leprosy Mission nearly 10 years ago when while looking for something to celebrate their turning 70.
Ian is unable to complete the zip wire and freefall challenge on his birthday itself as he and Pauline, together with fellow members of Brighton Road Baptist Church in Horsham, are running a ‘Holiday at Home’ scheme to support elderly people in the area during August when family members, neighbours and friends are away on holiday. He will instead undertake the daring challenge on Tuesday August 21.
“I have zip wired across The Oval cricket ground before so I am looking forward to that bit but must say I am unsure about the 24 metre drop,” said Ian. “My head tells me it can’t be dangerous but I’m sure when I’m up there my heart will be telling me something quite different.
“Nevertheless I am determined to complete it.”
After becoming involved with The Leprosy Mission, Ian and Pauline took part in a ‘Trek for Treatment’ in the Himalayas and visted the charity’s Anandaban Hospital in Nepal.
“We spent two days at Anandaban Hospital which was completely inspirational. The hospital is like a beacon of light in the mountains, with leprosy patients, often cast out from their families and communities, travelling miles to reach.
“Many of the patients are desperately disabled which is so tragic as there is a cure for leprosy and if they receive it promptly they would be fine. But at Anandaban patients are helped to walk, fitted with prosthetic limbs and become independent again. Some even learn new skills and end up better able to support themselves than they did before leprosy took its toll on their bodies.
“We have been back to Anandaban Hospital twice since, once in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015, and we also went to see The Leprosy Mission’s work in India last year.”
To sponsor Ian’s 80th birthday zip wire and freefall drop visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ian-jepps
See also www.leprosymission.org.uk