14 July, 2023

Age is just a number, as daredevil 90-year-old Ivan Mond proved with a money-raising skydiving leap for Breast Cancer UK. 

At an age when most people would be content with a quiet celebration, this grandad challenged the conventional expectations of how to mark the occasion. Skydiving had been something Ivan had wanted to do ever since completing national service as an 18-year-old. “When I was in the services, I wanted to join the parachute regiment,” he said. “But because I was a qualified welder, I was sent to Malaysia to armour-plate jeeps instead!”  

Why skydive at 90 years old? 

Despite skydiving being a lifelong ambition, Ivan, from Harlow in Essex, is more than just a thrill-seeker ticking off his ‘bucket list’. With his wife of 67 years, Valerie, Ivan is a proud dad of five, with a further 16 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. He explains how one family meet-up was what made the idea take off. “I love all my grandchildren. They nearly always ring me up once a week or their nan,” said Ivan. “About two years ago, when I was with them, I said I would do a parachute jump, and they told me, ‘You’ll never do a parachute jump!’ but I said, ‘Yes, I will. I’ll do one for my 90th birthday.’”  

From then on, the more Ivan thought about the idea, the more encouragement he got. Including people, he met on holidays offering him sponsorship to take the plunge! And so, after a further discussion with granddaughter Samantha, they agreed they needed to choose a charity to support. Once again, Ivan’s family was at the front of his mind when deciding what to do.   

Why Breast Cancer UK? 

“I lost my foster daughter, Karen, 18 years ago to breast cancer,” said Ivan. “She had the best treatment that she could possibly get, but it was devastating when we were sitting by her bedside, and she gradually passed away. It was a horrible thing. Her dying has always been with me.”   

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. Over 55,000 women and 390 men a year are diagnosed with the disease. Yet at least 30% of these cases could be prevented. Breast Cancer UK is working to prevent breast cancer through practical advice and support on how to reduce risk, scientific research, and policy change. The aim – supported by people like Ivan – is to save lives and mean fewer people must go through the heartbreak of seeing a loved one die.        

Before the skydive  

Now they knew the good cause they wanted to support. The plans took flight. With Samantha’s help, a JustGiving page was set up with a target to raise £500. Three generations of the Mond family signed up to jump with Ivan, including his children and grandchildren. Their fundraising efforts soared well beyond the initial target. More than £8,500 has now been raised for Breast Cancer UK by this amazing 90th birthday challenge.  

As is the case for anyone wanting to complete a skydive, Ivan had to pass a physical exam to be confirmed as fit to jump. He passed with flying colours, being judged as in the best condition of the whole group! With formalities out of the way, Ivan and ten members of his family boarded the plane to climb to 10,000 feet, high above Cambridgeshire.   

Post skydive 

Describing how jumping felt, Ivan said it was one of the best experiences of his life: “It was one of the finest things I’ve ever done. Amazing. The freefall itself – the beginning part before they open the parachute – was brilliant. That was so good I would have liked to have gone higher!”  

While the skydive was remarkable, Ivan is modest about what he did. “I didn’t do anything apart from the jump!” he said. But granddaughter Samantha, like the rest of the family, couldn’t be prouder and explains why: “I’m just so proud for grandad that he’s been able to do it after wanting to for so long. But actually, to then support a charity that’s not only close to his heart but the whole family, it’s just amazing.” 

Ivan and the family’s bravery captured the attention of local media, including ITV News Anglia, and it seems Ivan has no plans of stopping yet. Asked about his plans for the future, he revealed:  

“I’m going to do another skydive with my son Gary, who wasn’t able to do this one. And if I live to 100 – which I’m going to-I will live to 120! – I will do a wing walk for Breast Cancer UK.”  

To donate to Ivan’s fundraising appeal, visit his JustGiving page.

If you have a lifetime’s ambition you would like to mark while raising money for a good cause – find out how to fundraise for Breast Cancer UK here.

Fancy doing your own challenge? Download our fundraising pack full of ideas and inspiration! So you can help prevent breast cancer, starting with an epic challenge. 

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