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Octogenarian jumping from 15,000 feet to raise money for ShelterBox with birthday fundraiser

David Earl is celebrating his 80th birthday by jumping out of an aeroplane to raise money for ShelterBox

22 May 2023

Man wearing a flight suit

Press release – 22 May 2023

A man from Cornwall is celebrating his 80th birthday by jumping out of an aeroplane to raise crucial funds for the international disaster relief charity ShelterBox.

David Earl from St Austell is no stranger to heights having spent 27 years as an RAF pilot before flying commercially. The former Wing Commander returned to Cornwall and, until recently, worked as a flying instructor at airfields in Bodmin and Perranporth.

Now a volunteer for ShelterBox and Cornwall Air Ambulance, David has set his sights on raising money for the two Duchy-based charities with a tandem skydive on Friday 2 June at Perranporth Airfield.

He says: “After 63 years flying as a pilot and now entering my ninth decade, it strikes me that it is high time I let others take the strain while I just admire the scenery.

“Clearly the scale of ShelterBox’s activities demands very significant investment, and therefore fundraising and making people aware of the ever-increasing need of suffering people all over the world is critical to its continued success.  My aim is to do what I can to help.”

ShelterBox was founded by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard in 2000 and since then has supported more than 2.5 million people across 98 countries.

“Some years ago, I joined Rotary and became aware of ShelterBox,” adds David.

“It impressed me that here was a Cornish charity start-up, which had become so significant globally.

“When I was younger the idea of working ‘on the frontline’ would have appealed.  However, I am too old for that now, so last year when I was looking for a volunteer role, I contacted ShelterBox and was encouraged to become an ambassador doing talks to local clubs.”

The charity specialises in emergency shelter aid and supports people who have had to leave their homes, or had them damaged or destroyed, because of extreme weather events or conflict.

Every response is different, and ShelterBox tailors its aid package to the needs of disaster affected people, listening to what communities need. It provides shelter and other essential items such as solar lights, blankets, mosquito nets, and water filters.

Community Fundraising Officer for ShelterBox, Louisa Arnold says: “It’s not the first daring fundraising challenge David has completed to raise money for charities close to his heart.

“David has a great sense of adventure and having completed a charity wing walk a few years ago, he’s now all set to mark his 80th birthday by jumping out of an aeroplane.

“David is a wonderful volunteer and it’s people like him who help raise awareness and fund our much-needed work across the world.

“Every year more than 100 million people have to leave behind their homes because of conflict or disaster. We want to change that. By providing emergency shelter and other essential items, we give people a starting point.”

ShelterBox is currently helping people displaced by extreme weather events like the monsoon flooding in Pakistan and the worst drought to hit East Africa in 40 years.

It’s also supporting people affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, and who have had to flee their homes, or had them damaged, because of conflict. ShelterBox is working in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Mozambique.

To find out more about fundraising for ShelterBox, visit

  • £30 could provide a family with a sleeping mat and thermal blankets
  • £60 could provide a family with a water filter giving them access to clean drinking water
  • £350 could provide a family with a tent, a space for a family to call home. A perfect target for a group challenge.

David hopes to raise £3,000 for charity and has set up a fundraising page.



For more information contact the press office at ShelterBox via [email protected].

Notes to Editors

  • Photographs and captions included. More images available on request.
  • Interviews with David available on request

About ShelterBox

ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and other essential items to families who have lost their homes to disasters. With operational headquarters in Cornwall, the charity also has 14 affiliate organisations worldwide.

The charity has been Rotary International’s project partner in disaster relief since 2012. ShelterBox has supported more than 2.5 million people since it was founded in 2000.