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APT & Sportability


Salisbury Journal - 2005

Reaching for the skies

TWELVE severely disabled people have found independence and met a challenge they did not think was possible, thanks to one man, who on Sunday was honoured with the Charity and Fundraising award.

Jack Simpson runs the Aviation for Paraplegics and Tetraplegics Trust, based at Old Sarum airfield, and, in the ten years he has been at the helm, 12 students have obtained their flying licences, enabling them to take to the skies and enjoy a freedom they might not otherwise have had.

Jack (70), a former lieutenant colonel in the Royal Signals, sat stunned as his name was read out.

He was nominated by Sarah Evans, who said of him: "Jack always goes that extra mile. He gives unstintingly of his time and energy.

"He is always determined to achieve funding and keeps working at it until he does.

"It took him several attempts to gain a lottery grant but he persisted until he achieved it."

Students pay their own training fees, but the trust covers all other costs. The trust receives no statutory funding and has to raise £25,000 each year to keep it going.

Paraplegics and tetraplegics who have been injured in accidents or who have been disabled from birth leam to fly.

Besides the 12 who have their licences, a further 11 are under training - and one tetraplegic man, from East Gomeldon, has just achieved his ambition of being able to fly solo.

The aim of the trust is to help people recover a belief in themselves and a degree of independence and confidence in their self- worth, said Jack, and learning to fly enabled them to face their difficulties and meet new challenges.

He added: "Being here at the award ceremony today is marvellous. I had no idea I was nominated until the letter arrived.

"Now, to have won the award is just incredible.

"It is a very proud moment for me."

Jack is general manager and secretary of the trust and is helped by his wife, Ada, who also works at Salisbury District Hospital, where she helps look after seriously injured people.

After 37 years in the Royal Signals, Jack spent just over four years working for the Sultan of Oman before returning to England and setting up the trust.