I tried skydiving for my 50th birthday

Trevor Richards’ decision to jump out of a plane at an altitude of 15,000ft was a life-changing one. He says getting active has made his 50s the best decade yet

If you’d have asked Trevor Richards five years ago if he would ever do a skydive, he tells me he would have laughed in your face. But when he was 52, he realised his life had got into a bit of a rut and suddenly a new world of opportunities opened for Trevor when he joined an organisation called Spice UK.

“That was a really life-changing moment for me – Spice UK is a members group offering fun activities and holidays across the country and for me it was a wonderful way to meet so many lovely friends,” says Trevor, 58, who lives in Rotherham, Yorkshire.

“I started walking regularly and got a lot fitter. Pretty soon I was walking 30 miles most weekends, climbing Ben Nevis, Snowdon and tramping across the Lake District.”

For Trevor, it was a massive personal achievement to reach the top of a mountain, but there was more to come.

When he reached 56, one of his daredevil friends encouraged him to come along and try skydiving. “That single skydive proved to me how much my life had changed. Previously I would have been petrified of trying something like this, and it’s a world away from my desk job as a payroll manager,” explains Trevor.

“Initially, we had the basic training then the skydive was called off due to clouds coming over. That was so disappointing and we hung around all day in the cafe at Hibaldstow airfield hoping the weather would change.”

But it didn’t and so Trevor returned the following Friday morning with his friends for his second attempt. “This time, we were lucky to have glorious sunshine and although I was apprehensive, we quickly got a slot and I was introduced to my tandem instructor,” he continues. “He was a smashing Irish fellow who completely put me at ease straight away.”

For Trevor, ascending to an altitude of 15,000ft in the plane was the worst bit. Surrounded by the flat landscape around Scunthorpe, he could see for miles.

“When I got to the edge of the open door of the plane, strapped to my instructor, I had a lump in my throat and my heart was pounding, but it was totally exhilarating.”

“The freefall was absolutely brilliant, I just enjoyed feeling the air rushing past my face, and I screamed a lot!” Once the parachute was open, Trevor had a go at steering and pulling the ropes.

“Skydiving gave me such a fantastic feeling – it was quite simply the best thing I have ever done in my life,” he tells me.

Trevor says he owes a lot to Spice – if it wasn’t for signing up five years ago, he wouldn’t have dared jump out of a plane, and the people he has met through doing extreme sports and fun activities have changed his life in such a positive way. His colleagues at the office are somewhat surprised, and probably very impressed, when he mentions his weekend mountain climbing excursions or skydiving exploits. “As long as you are fairly fit, this is a wonderful thing to do in your fifties – I’d say give it a go!”