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Press Release: Parachuting octogenarian helps veterans to find their wings

An 89 year-old World War II veteran who undertook a charity parachute jump has raised money to help other veterans take flight.

Edward ‘Ted' Pieri, who turns 90 next May, donated £1700 to the Taxi Charity after jumping from a plane with the Red Devils, 70 years after first gaining his wings.

The grandfather's fundraising efforts will enable the charity, also known as The London Taxi Benevolent Association For War Disabled, to host a gliding day next year for 10 veterans whose total ages top 900.

Dick Goodwin, committee member for the Taxi Charity said: "We were so pleased with Ted's charity jump for us, as this is a great boost to our funding and will enable us to provide more trips and lunches for our veterans.

"Keeping to the aviation theme, we have close links with the Glider Pilot Regiment, some of whose members are still involved in civilian gliding clubs. At a recent lunch, a flight in a glider was donated to us to auction at one of our events. The person who bid the most to go on the flight was 95 year-old George Parsons.

"The only problem was, we had requests from nine other vets all aged over 90 who asked if they could also go along, so we will now be organising a gliding day for this lot in the Spring. Where do they get the energy from?"

Ted, from Erith in Kent, received a framed certificate, presented by Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson CB CVO, National President of the Royal British Legion at the charity's Christmas lunch at Millwall Football Club.

Ted said: "I thoroughly enjoyed the jump, as well as the great hospitality shown by the Red Devils. They were a wonderful set of lads and they made me feel immensely proud to be part of the airborne forces."

"The Taxi Charity do so much for the Armed Forces veterans and I have experienced first-hand the wonderful work and great people that make so much difference to people lives.

"If it were possible I would have liked to thank everyone who supported me personally not only for the money, but for the tremendous number of amazing comments I received. They were inspiring and emotional in equal measure and I am very grateful to everyone. Thank you and happy landings."

Ted volunteered for the Royal Army Service Corp in 1943. His company, The 252, was shortly integrated into the 250 Light Composite Company 1st Airborne in the same year. In 1944, Ted volunteered for parachute training and was awarded his wings.

Ted undertook logistic support for Arnhem, and was held in reserve after which he returned to Lincoln before supporting the Allies final moments taking place in Norway. From there, he joined a ship going to Java. While travelling through the Suez Canal, the Japanese surrendered. He was redirect to Haifa in Palestine and spent time in Gaza before the 1st Airborne was disbanded. He joined the 63 Composite Company, 6th Airborne as a despatch rider in various locations before being discharged in 1947.

The Taxi Charity relies on volunteer London licensed taxi drivers to provide their taxis and time for free and seeks donations from the general public and organisations.

Drivers supporting the Taxi Charity recently offered their services to transport veterans across London at this year's VJ events, commemorating the 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan.

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