THE chairman of South Gloucestershire Council is shaping up for a charity skydive at the age of 71.

Cllr Howard Gawler, who lives in Rangeworthy and represents the Ladden Brook ward, will jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet next month to raise funds for the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC), one of the two causes he has chosen to support during his year in office.

Cllr Gawler, who was elected on to the council in 2003 and became chairman in May, said rather than dreading the high-flying challenge he was looking forward to it.

“I have been called everything from brave to an idiot,” said the adventurous grandfather.

“About four years ago I did parapenting in the Alps, where I basically launched myself off the side of a mountain. It was great fun.”

Despite his age, Cllr Gawler has also tried his hand at skid pan driving at Castle Coombe race track.

“I suppose I am somewhat adventurous,” he said. “And with the skydive half of it will be freefall at 120mph. I am really looking forward to it.”

The Liberal Democrat councillor, who as chairman represents South Gloucestershire’s at civic functions across the South West, will jump in tandem with an instructor from an air field in Wroughton near Swindon. He will be joined by his niece Sarah Farthing, from Wick, as well as two members of staff from GWAAC and a group of 10 others.

In order to complete the skydive on Sunday, September 7, Cllr Gawler said he is hoping to shift a few pounds.

“I am trying to lose some weight because I need to get a medical certificate because of my age,” he said. “But nothing seems to be happening at the moment.”

He added: “Any one of us may be thankful for the air ambulance’s life saving services at some point in our lives and I’m proud to give them my support.

“The charity doesn’t receive any government or National Lottery funding, which means they rely entirely on the generosity of local people to continue operating.”

To sponsor him visit Cllr Gawler’s fundraising page