100-year old celebrates birthday by skydiving
SWLEjump - by Nathan Sandhu This is the amazing moment a former 'Sapper' celebrated his 100th birthday by completing a skydive - 74 years after he last jumped out of a plane during WWII.
Thrill-seeker Thomas Hodgson shouted "bloody grand" as he came down on Sunday, July 7 at Skydive Northwest.
He was born on June 30, 1919 - the same year as the end of the First World War, when Charles Strite invented the Pop-Up Toaster and Lady Astor became the first woman to take her seat in parliament.
Thomas joined the territorial army and was assigned to the fifth battalion border regiment where he was a Bren Gun carrier driver.
When the Second World War broke out, Thomas was transferred to the Royal Engineers on account of his employment.
Thomas was attached to the paratroopers for training and jumped out of a plane in the 1940s in Hampshire.
Now seven decades later, Thomas completed a 14,000ft skydive to raise money for Cancer Research UK and The Great North Air Ambulance.
He should have done the skydive on his actual birthday but it was cancelled due to high winds.
After his tandem jump last Sunday, he said: "You could see every mark in the fields.
"I more than enjoyed it, words can't describe it.
The view was terrific.
Blackpool Tower, Morecambe, Isle of Man, Barrow-in-Furness, you could see for miles.
"There was a little breeze and it was just like floating on air.
"It brought back war memories but I don't like talking about them - I've finished with them now.
"It's the last thing on my bucket list.
It's that long since I have jumped out of a plane and these charities are worth supporting." When asked how he felt about turning 100, Thomas, from Cleator Moor, Cumbria., said: "I don't feel 100.
I feel 50." Thomas said he had received around 75 birthday cards, including a "lovely" card from the Queen and one from Amber Rudd, secretary of state for work and pensions.
However, he was adamant he did not want any gifts - asking only for donations to the two charities.
Thomas was born in Rowrah and grew up in Moor Row.
He joined the Royal Engineers in 1940 at the age of 19.
He worked on the railways and when the army asked for parachuting volunteers, he jumped at the chance.
He met his wife Mary in 1936 and the couple were wed on February 26, 1943, at St Leonard's Church in Cleator.
After leaving the army, Thomas worked on the London, Midlands and Scottish railways, and was a chargehand locomotive driver at Sellafield for 12 years before he retired.
Thomas was widowed 25 years ago and continues to visit his wife's final resting place at St Leonard's twice a week to "have a crack".
The adventurous pensioner describes himself as "independent", still drives a car and enjoys meeting up with his old friends at Cockermouth Auction.