AFTER descending from 10,300ft, travelling at up to 136mph, 83-year-old George Hodgson landed safely and declared his first parachute jump to be magic.

"I would do it again, but I'd make sure I had warmer gloves on.

"It was very cold up there," said the widower, from Wolsingham, County Durham, sipping on a cup of tea.

"It was magic. My favourite bit was when the parachute deployed and it was great seeing out to sea.

"I want to do a wing walk next, but I don't think they do that here. I think there is an airfield in Kent that does."

Mr Hodgson's trip in the Cesna 182 that took him from Shotton Airfield, near Peterlee, east Durham, was his first flight.

His adventure comes 30 years after doctors gave him only a week to live after he was diagnosed with nonHodgkins lymphoma.

Last year, Mr Hodgson was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

But instead of resting, he has decided to be as active as he can and visits The Northern Echo-sponsored Wellness on Wheels mobile gym in Stanhope three times a week.

The gym's project manager, Natalie Drew, was among the group of family and friends who braved the cold to watch George make his tandem parachute jump with instructor Mark Wilcox, from Blyth, Northumberland.

Mr Wilcox said: "He was absolutely first class.

"He kept me safe. We were doing an average of 129 mph with a maximum speed of 136mph. He is the oldest person I have jumped with. The last one was a woman of 77.

"There is a bit of technique to doing a good landing, but George got it spot on."

Mr Hodgson's daughter, Heather Richardson, of Hamsterley, and her daughters, Amy and Julie, were among the onlookers.

Mrs Richardson said: "It is absolutely brilliant, although I was worried. I tried to talk him out of it. But if you want to do it, you have got to do it - life is too short."

Mr Hodgson's jump has raised at least £2,500 for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Fundraising manager Linda McDonough said: "I am not aware of anyone that old doing a jump.

"You wouldn't think that George was 83.

"He is brilliant and we are delighted he is raising money for our work."