No stopping Nancy

Pictured: Daredevil fundraiser Nancy Spencer
A daredevil fundraiser is swapping skydiving for a wing walk after having a pacemaker fitted at 80.

Heighington-born Nancy Spencer had raised £1,500 in advance of a planned skydive for St Teresa’s Hospice, Darlington, where she has volunteered for the past 25 years.

But before taking off she suffered heart issues which led to the fitting of a pacemaker and doctors advising she drop the idea.

Unperturbed the retired quality controller has arranged to go wing walking on May 27 with Wingwalk.Buzz at Leeds Airport East.

She will spend 10 minutes strapped to the top of an old Boeing Stearman biplane at speeds of up to 135mph in front of her family while being recorded on video for posterity.

“I was so looking forward to the skydive but hadn’t been feeling well,” recalled Nancy, who lives in Darlington. “I’d been due to go to York for the weekend with the girls but was getting so tired and had no energy, which isn’t like me at all.

“So I went to the doctors, then hospital and they wouldn’t let me leave. Within 20 minutes I had a pacemaker fitted and I was back home two days later. I felt instantly better, like a different person, and I was gutted when I was told not to go skydiving. I instantly asked ‘what about wing walking’?”

She said her family had been relieved when the skydiving was cancelled. “But I felt I had let a lot of people down,” Nancy said. “I’d collected £1,500 and hope to double that now.”

Over the years Nancy has taken part in a host of charity events including abseiling from the top of a hospital, It’s a Knockout contests and sponsored bed pushes, helping to raise thousands of pounds in the process.

She had planned to skydive for her 70th birthday but sadly lost her husband Brian after he was told on Christmas Eve morning that he had cancer.

“I’m sure he will be looking down on me and asking ‘what is she doing now’?”

St Teresa’s needs to raise £3m a year to provide free in-patient and community care for people living with life-limiting illnesses and their families in Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.

“It is really hard work for the Hospice at the moment because of the cost of living crisis,” she said. “MP Peter Gibson is helping promote the wing walk on his social media to support me.”

“We really have to try and help the Hospice. When I think back to the work of Yvonne Rowe, who helped found the hospice, it would be terrible if we let it go. It is a very valuable facility which this area needs.”

John Paul Stabler, Communications and Marketing Manager at St Teresa’s Hospice, said: “We are so pleased that Nancy has made a full recovery and is back helping us at the hospice. Everyone is as excited as she is about her wing walking exploits and she remains an inspiration to us all.

“These are very difficult times for the hospice so any support we receive from our community is very welcome indeed so we can continue to help those in need.”

Anyone wishing to sponsor Nancy should contact the Events Team at St Teresa’s Hospice on 01325 254321 or

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