WINGWALKING legend Tom Lackey has just celebrated his 95th birthday – and a change in fundraising laws inspired by his sky-high efforts – by breaking his own record as the world’s oldest wingwalker.
The daredevil nonogenarian did his first walk 15 years ago when his beloved wife Isobel died.
And with a family history of aviation the then 80-year-old thought there was no better way to hit the fundraising trail than to take to the skies.
His wife had been in the RAF and his brother Harold was a Battle of Britain pilot who was killed in action.
In the subsequent 15 years daredevil Tom has raised well over £1.25 million for a variety of charities close to his heart and has broken numerous wingwalking records in the process.
His amazing feats include a double English Channel crossing in memory of his son Alex, who lost his battle with cancer, and various wingwalks in honour of his daughter Anne, who won her own battle with breast cancer.
Tom has always made money for the charities through direct donations by people impressed with his antics and through guest speaking at clubs and societies where he recalls his exploits.
But he has never been able to officially collect sponsorship money for the wingwalks themselves as the activity was deemed to dangerous.
Until now that is.
Not only has Tom made a massive difference to the lives of many people through his wingwalking – now he has succeeded in officially changing the law.
So impressed have the authorities been with his amazing fundraising efforts – and the number of people who have taken to the skies inspired by Tom, that they have now agreed to allow sponsorship for wingwalking.
“I am delighted and proud by this fabulous news,” said Tom, speaking to The Observer on his birthday.
“We have raised such an amazing amount of money over the years it is so nice this has been recognised and both I, and all the amazing people who wingwalk with me, can now raise the money directly.”
Tom never asks for anything in return for his fundraising efforts, but in 2011 he got a very nice surprise.
His daughter Anne and granddaughter Verity took him to be a member of the audience on ITV’s Loose Women programme.
Unbeknown to Tom his attendance had been requested as host Carol Vorderman had a little surprise up her sleeve.
Carol, also the host of the ITV Pride of Britain Awards, took to the studio floor to have a chat with Tom, asking him about his aerobatic exploits.
She then took the opportunity to tell him that his visit had been planned and that she wanted to award him with the Pride of Britain Charity Fundraiser of the Year award.
“I was shocked and delighted,” Tom told The Observer at the time, after he received his award from the Red Arrows team and supermodel Elle Macpherson.
“I never want anything in return for my efforts other than people to keep donating money to the wonderful charities I support.”
if you want to help the fundraising or even take to the skies for charity yourself, you can get in touch with Tom on 0121 744 1719.