Three decades of fundraising for Preston grandad about to complete a skydive for Derian House

On Sunday (July 24), a Preston grandfather of 10 will be completing a skydive for Derian House Children’s Hospice, in what will mark three decades of fundraising.
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64 year old John Johnson, a chemical processor from Bamber Bridge, will be completing the sky dive alongside five others in a team called Unicorn Fitness.

However this is not John’s first big fundraiser to gain the Post’s attention, as he has done so twice before- first in 2002 with a pool marathon for Francis House Children’s Hospice and then ten years later in 2012 with a half marathon for Logan North, a Bamber Bridge youngster with neuroblastoma.

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John’s first challenge, which raised money in honour of Kirsty Howard, a young girl born with a rare heart condition, even reappeared in the Post last month, in a nostalgic article taking readers back to 2002.

64 year old John Johnson from Bamber Bridge will be completing a sky dive for Derian House Children's Hospice on Sunday.64 year old John Johnson from Bamber Bridge will be completing a sky dive for Derian House Children's Hospice on Sunday.
64 year old John Johnson from Bamber Bridge will be completing a sky dive for Derian House Children's Hospice on Sunday.

Explaining the origins of his fundraising bug, John, said: “My daughter lost her thumb in work experience at school, and in the hospital, I saw this Kirsty and decided I’d raise money for Francis House so I organised a 24 hour pool marathon. Then in 2012, I did the Great North Run for a local lad who had neuroblastoma, and then now in 2022, it’s Dive for Derian, so every 10 years there’s been a big event.

“I'm passionate about charities, I'm passionate about children's charities. The self funding ones need the money the most, so if people could donate, it would be amazing.”

In 2002, John raised just over £2020 and in 2012, just over £2050, so he is hoping to break this unbelievable pattern for his third big challenge for Derian House.

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John sadly lost a baby grandson in 2013, and says this is part of the motivation for supporting the Chorley charity, having also previously raised £500 for them in 2019.

John and his wife Julie (two on far right) with Linda Smith, Derek Livesey, Geoff Heywood, Nick Garratt and Chris Eastham, during their 24-hour pool marathon at the Pear Tree pub in Bamber BridgeJohn and his wife Julie (two on far right) with Linda Smith, Derek Livesey, Geoff Heywood, Nick Garratt and Chris Eastham, during their 24-hour pool marathon at the Pear Tree pub in Bamber Bridge
John and his wife Julie (two on far right) with Linda Smith, Derek Livesey, Geoff Heywood, Nick Garratt and Chris Eastham, during their 24-hour pool marathon at the Pear Tree pub in Bamber Bridge

He said: “We did a spin-a-thon in 2019 for Derian House at GymWorks and when I went to Derian House, they just blew me away, and there’s so much money they need, so I just wanted to push this personally.

“When you see kids that need this funding it's quite moving, isn't it?”

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Julie Johson, who’s been married to John for nearly 39 years said: “He loves doing things for charity, he's done quite a few, mainly running marathons and half marathons.

John also completed the Great North Run for Bamber Bridge lad Logan North.John also completed the Great North Run for Bamber Bridge lad Logan North.
John also completed the Great North Run for Bamber Bridge lad Logan North.
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“On his 60th birthday he even organised a party, paid for a singer to come, got hold of donation boxes plus sponsor forms for a dementia charity, as I’d not long lost my mum to it, invited all his friends, but asked for no presents, he just wanted people to donate to the charity.

“This sky dive is his biggest one yet, and John doesn't do heights- once he was trying to sort gutters out he only managed the fourth tread before his knees started shaking!

“When John does his charity events he always puts 100% into getting as much money as he can, l’m very proud of the things he's done, he's amazing. I will be watching and supporting him on Sunday!”

John added: “I'm scared of heights but I want to do this sky dive for the charity. The fact is, once I get up there, nerves are just going to go away because I know it’s for the kids.”

To donate to John’s sky dive fundraiser for Derian House, visit the Unicorn Fitness JustGiving page.

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