A DARDEVIL grandfather has celebrated his 70th birthday by abseiling from one of the North-East’s best-known landmarks in aid of a cancer appeal.

Retired solicitor John Flynn didn’t want presents for his “big birthday” and instead decided to test his nerve on Middlesbrough’s 164-feet high Transporter Bridge.

John roped in daughters Louise and Katie, along with son Harry, and together they raised around £600 for a £1m appeal to create a centre for excellence in cancer care in County Durham.

The appeal has been launched by the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust’s official charity and is being backed by The Northern Echo to commemorate its 150th anniversary as a campaigning newspaper.

The aim is to raise £1m by next summer to improve facilities at the chemotherapy day unit at the University Hospital of North Durham, where cancer patients from across the county can choose to have their initial treatment.

With the number of cancer cases increasing, the unit needs more space to allow patients greater privacy, dignity and comfort during the most traumatic time of their lives.

John, former chairman of Tow Law Football Club and now living in the County Durham village of Broompark, said: “I just wanted to show you’re never too old to be adventurous and raise money for a great cause.”

His wife Jenny, who chairs the trust’s Charitable Funds Committee, added: “This is such an important appeal because cancer affects everyone in some way. We have brilliant staff, but they are working in difficult conditions and they and the patients deserve better.”

John, a grandad of six, abseiled from the Transporter Bridge 15 years ago but it was just for fun back then.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, there are lots of ways to help. Even if you can’t do something yourself, you can support someone else,” he said.

John, Louise, Katie and Harry were cheered on by family and friends as they made the drop with the expert support of Odyssey Adventure.

Anyone who wants to support the Excellence In Cancer Care appeal can make a donation by going to www.justgiving.com/cddft. You can also call 01325 743781, email charity manager Pat Chambers at pat.chambers@nhs.net, or search for @cddftcharity on Facebook and Twitter.