A CARDIGAN pensioner is to take to the skies for a tandem sky dive.

Seventy-four-year-old retired farmer Keith Whitehead, from Blaenporth, will plummet 12,000 feet at Swansea Airport on September 15 to help raise money for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI).

Keith – now being dubbed ‘the flying farmer’ - will undertake the parachute jump along with Dave Burrows and John Kubale, from Sheffield and London respectively to raise funds for the charity as a way of saying thank you for the help it gave him.

“Working on a farm, I thought I would be there until I retired as it was a rewarding and satisfying job that I thoroughly enjoyed,” said Keith.

“Unfortunately, I began to feel unwell and my physical and mental health started to deteriorate until I had no strength at all. Much to my dismay, I had to give up my job.

“It took more than two years for doctors to find out what was wrong with me but I was eventually diagnosed with organophosphate poisoning/ME, probably caused by the large number of sprays and sheep dips I had used over the years.

“Managing my finances and paying the mortgage became difficult and this didn’t help my anxiety. My wife Jill and I did a lot of soul searching during those dark days and we eventually decided our only option was to put the house up for sale.

“Thankfully, it was around this time that someone also put me in touch with RABI. They helped with domestic bills and since then have continued to support us in many ways.

“Jill and myself now receive ongoing and regular financial payments. We shall never be able to say thank you enough.

“Both of us volunteer for the charity’s Ceredigion committee and help raise funds via table-top and car boot sales. This year, I have managed to make some cake-stands and clocks to sell, when I’ve been well enough to operate the tools in my little workshop.

“We greatly appreciate the support we’ve received from RABI and we would urge anyone who finds themselves in a similar position to call the charity’s helpline 0808 281 9490. You will be treated with the utmost respect and compassion.”

If you would like to make a donation, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/flyingfarmer