‘A Thrill of a Lifetime’: An 80th Birthday 15,000 Ft In The Sky

‘A Thrill of a Lifetime’: An 80th Birthday 15,000 Ft In The Sky

Introducing the inspiring 80-year-old Auriel, who took a fearless leap of faith to raise money for St. Raphael’s Hospice. By Anize Keers

Auriel Dowty Glanville from Wimbledon recently celebrated her 80th birthday with a skydive fundraising for St. Raphael’s Hospice.

Auriel was the co-ordinator of Merton Friends of the Earth for 25 years and is club leader of the Wimbledon Common Nature Club for children.

The fundraiser was in memory of her late partner, Richard Mackie, who had received hospice care from the community team before his passing.

Auriel says: “The timing felt right to align my birthday in honour of my late partner while fundraising for the charity that greatly supported us.”

Her leap of faith was also in memory of her dear friend Dave Lofthouse, Arboricultural Manager of Merton for 33 years. Auriel, Richard and Keith Spears all helped Dave to plant four woodlands in Wandle Park in Colliers Wood.

The skydive also remembered Philip Beardsworth and Conor Boyd, who both received care from the Hospice.

Auriel is no stranger to aviation. Her father Sir George Dowty started the Dowty aircraft company in the 1930s when he designed and built the Dowty internally sprung wheel. The undercarriage aircraft wheel has since received an Engineering Heritage Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

On 6 July 2023, Auriel joined the GoSkydive team at Old Sarum Airfield in Salisbury, to travel up to 15,000 ft in the sky.

Imagery: © 2023 GoSkdyive Media Manager

Speaking on her journey to the clouds, Auriel says: “I felt calm in the plane on our ascent, strapped in very tight to my instructor, with adrenaline kicking in while dangling my legs over the exit out of the plane, which was the scary part. Then I was in freefall at 125mph when there was an almighty jerk as the parachute cord was pulled out, and then, absolute peace.”

“Floating like a bird while taking in the vast landscape including Stonehenge below. It was amazing to see the world from above and to marvel at the very planet that Dave dedicated so much of his life protecting.”

Auriel has raised £3,500 for the Hospice and counting.

She says she would recommend skydiving to anyone considering it. “It was the thrill of a lifetime. Just go and do it. When you are in tandem with an instructor from GoSkydive you are in such good, safe hands. I went in tandem with George Clack, the chief instructor. He has done 10,000 skydives and another instructor has done 28,000!”

Speaking on the Hospice she said: “St. Raphael’s will look after more loved ones in our lifetime than we realise, as loved ones of mine have been. People may not know that they provide unmatched end-of-life care to over a thousand patients from Merton and Sutton every year, at no cost to the patients and families they support. The charity is a local treasure that we must all try to support.”

To continue supporting Auriel’s fundraising efforts over her 80th birthday, please visit her JustGiving page at: