LYME Regis resident Ania Driver is planning to celebrate her 70th birthday by jumping out of a helicopter with the Army’s crack Red Devils free fall parachute team in memory of her late husband Terry, a former Royal Marine, and to raise money for her favourite charity, the Royal British Legion.
In an exclusive interview with LymeOnline, Ania said: “I will always be indebted to the Royal British Legion and in this 100th year after the end of World War One I felt it fitting to try and repay this great charity.
“My husband Terry served as a Royal Marine for many years and in his closing years became totally dependent upon me.
“After approaching the Legion, at the suggestion of a friend, they very kindly provided a wet room at home and other aids to allow me to care for Terry the best I could.
“Without the care and consideration given I’m sure I would not have been able to look after Terry as I would have wished to.
“On a personal basis I also have a fear of heights and wanted to do something that would not only benefit the RBL but also be a personal challenge for me. So I’m going to jump with the Red Devils Free Fall team on June 26.
“If the truth be told, Terry spent a large proportion of his service with the Royal Marines jumping in and out of ‘Junglies’, so I thought I’d better get my own back and join him in some aerial frolics!”
Ania met her husband whilst serving in the Queen Alexandra Royal Navy Nursing Services, when he was being treated at the Royal Navy Hospital in Plymouth. As a Royal Marine, Terry served four tours of duty in Northern Ireland during the troubles.
The couple moved to Lyme Regis in 1999, where they had spent many happy holidays, when Terry was diagnosed with an incurable disease. He died in 2006 and Ania has never forgotten the kindness and support offered by the Royal British Legion.
Long-standing supporters of Legion
As ex-service personnel, they were both members of the Royal British Legion and in recent years Ania has played a prominent role in the Lyme Regis branch, acting as welfare officer.
Ania spent the first eight years of her life speaking only Polish as her parents were part of the Allied Forces brought to the UK from Italy to live in a refugee camp near Nantwich in Cheshire. Every year Ania sings the Polish National Anthem at the Polish war memorial in Anning Road at Remembrance time.
Ian Marshall, chairman of the Lyme Regis Royal British Legion, paid tribute to Ania’s desire to repay the charity for the help it provided for her husband.
He said: “We are exceedingly proud of Ania for taking on this challenge in aid of the Legion’s Poppy Appeal. In recent years she has done wonderful work for the Legion as welfare officer, visiting and helping many former service personnel who live in Lyme.
“We hope the people of Lyme will support this wonderful fundraising effort.”
Ania’s free fall jump will take place on Tuesday, June 26 at Old Sarum in Salisbury, where the Red Devils are based. To sponsor her visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/aniaspoppyappealskyjump
The Red Devils are no strangers to the people of Lyme Regis as they performed during the town’s Lifeboat Week last year and will be dropping into Lyme again this summer on August 2.