Thrill-seeking trio skydive for dementia research in honour of grandfather

07 November 2018

Three siblings from Herefordshire completed skydives to raise money for pioneering dementia research in honour of their Irish author grandfather who has Alzheimer’s disease.

Esme Dunne skydive

Esme Dunne skydive

Esme Dunne, 16, sister Amelia, 18, and brother Charlie, 21, jumped out of a plane at 10,000 feet at Shobdon Aerodrome in tandem with trained instructors. They raised £4,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, smashing their target of £1,500.

The trio, from Titley, near Kington, were inspired to support the UK’s leading dementia research charity after witnessing the effect Alzheimer’s disease has had on their grandfather, Lee Dunne, who is a famed author and playwright.

Amelia Dunne landing

Amelia Dunne landing

Lee is best known for his novel Goodbye to the Hill. He has been described as the ‘most banned author in Ireland’, with his novel Midnight Cabbie becoming the last book to be banned by the infamous 1929 censorship act in 1976.

Esme said:

“Alzheimer’s has already had a significant effect on our grandpa’s relationships and freedom. He has difficulties with decision-making, problem-solving, planning and sequencing tasks. Unexpected changes lead to a disorientation of time and place, and he often doesn’t recognise familiar faces.

“Grandpa doesn’t know where we live, he doesn’t remember the last time we were together and sometimes he doesn’t even know we are related. But he still loves us.

“One day, in the not too distant future, the veil will drop even further and it will be our faces he doesn’t recognise. The thought of him not knowing who we are is horrible.

“He stays in good spirits and never resists using profanity to get a laugh. He still maintains that he’s irresistible to women and sings beautifully without prompting. I would say the one positive thing is that he forgets he’s unwell.

“We want to do all we can to support research, so we can prevent other families experiencing what we do.”

Esme added:

“The skydive was exhilarating. In the plane I was impatient to reach 10,000 feet, wanting to jump as soon as I could. I laughed while we were free-falling. It was incredible, and I think it’s my new (and expensive) hobby!”

Zoe Baggott, Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Regional Fundraising Officer for the West Midlands, said:

“We can’t thank Esme, Amelia and Charlie enough for bravely jumping out of a plane to support vital dementia research and help us in our mission to make life-changing breakthroughs possible for people with dementia.

“Their grandpa’s experience shows the devastating effect dementia can have on families. But dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing, with research Alzheimer’s disease and the other forms of dementia can be overcome.”

If you’d like to take on a skydive for Alzheimer’s Research UK, go to

For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK, or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555 or visit