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Farmer skydives for charity

Farmer skydives for charity

Keith Whitehead raised almost US$4,000 for RABI

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

A Welsh farmer jumped out of an airplane on Sept. 15 to raise money for a charity that helped him in a time of need.

Keith Whitehead, a 74-year retired sheep producer now known as “the flying farmer” from Ceredigion, Wales, performed a 12,000-foot (3,657-metre) skydive at the Swansea Airport to fundraise for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI). The organization offers financial support to farmers who have difficulty paying bills.

To date, the skydive has raised £3,000 (US$3,944) for RABI. People can still donate through the event’s fundraising page.

Whitehead’s fundraising helped him thank the organization that supported his family when they were in need.

After two years of tests, doctors diagnosed the farmer with organophosphate poisoning, which can cause muscle tremors and confusion.

“Unfortunately, I began to feel unwell and my physical health started to deteriorate until I had no strength at all,” he told the Tivy-Side Advertiser on Sept. 9. “Much to my dismay, I had to give up my job.”

Without any income from the farm, the Whiteheads decided to make a tough decision to help make ends meet.

“My wife Jill and I did a lot of soul searching during those dark days and we eventually decided our only option was to put the house up for sale,” he said. “Thankfully, it was around this time that someone put me in touch with RABI. They helped with domestic bills and since then have contributed to support us in many ways.”

Since retiring from farming, Keith has raised money for RABI through selling cake stands and clocks. But he wanted to do more.

“When we got up in the plane, Dave and John (two friends who accompanied Keith on the skydive), said I had to go first because they thought I’d back out, but I wasn’t going to,” he said in a RABI release on Sept. 26. “I wanted to give RABI as much as I could.”

RABI photo

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