This September Harry Read, 94, will be taking part in his first high level skydive since he parachuted into Normandy on 6 June 1944, D-Day. Harry is using the event to fundraise for The Salvation Army’s Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery work in UK.
As a 20-year-old Wireless Operator in World War Two Harry was part of the Parachute Brigade landing in Normandy early on 6 June. To avoid attack during war time parachuting would take place as close to the ground as possible.
Harry explained, “On that morning at 00.50 hours I parachuted into Normandy and 30 seconds later I was on the ground. It was a very different experience to the one I’m about to undertake. This will be my first high level skydive and I’m quite looking forward to the occasion. My doctor has assured me my heart is as healthy as a middle aged man”.
Harry had seen veterans taking part in skydives previously and after visiting the Normandy battlefields on an anniversary tour earlier this year he was inspired to look into one for himself. Ahead of a possible skydive next June (2019) at the 75-year anniversary of D-Day, Harry decided to try a dive a little closer to home and is booked into The Old Sarum Airfield in Salisbury on 14 September 2018.
A life-long member of The Salvation Army and a great-great grandfather, in 2016, Harry was awarded France’s highest honour, the Chevalier, by order of the Légion d'Honneur for the role he played in the country’s liberation from the Nazis in June 1944.
Harry explains his drive to take part in the skydive is about his sense of faith overpowering his common sense. He says: “At whatever age we are, we are more than capable of shrinking from something that we feel is beyond us. But, I believe we should not withdraw from a challenge – yesterday is not our best, our best is tomorrow.”
Harry has already raised well over £3,000; the money raised from his skydive will go to support the work of The Salvation Army’s Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery Unit, in particular the international projects aiming to prevent trafficking and slavery at the source. Harry will be jumping with members of his family; his grand-daughters Lianne, 37, and Joanna, 39, and his great-grandson Josh, 23.
Harry has previously served as the leader of The Salvation Army in both the UK and East Australia, and as Chief Secretary at The Salvation Army in Canada.
If you would like to support Harry’s skydive please visit his JustGiving page.