Committed Freemason Bob Smith has passed away only a few weeks after leaping into the record books as the oldest Freemason ever to have made a tandem parachute jump for charity
Bob, 85, died at home in Horncastle on 27 October, with his daughter Alison beside him. His incredible feat had come after a tough year for Bob. He lost his wife Pam in March, and on top of all his other illnesses, he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. But he refused to let that stop him from going through with his parachuting ambition to raise funds for the Lincolnshire 2025 Festival.
Bob shared his thoughts on the jump and a week of surprises, which we include here:
'I came up with the idea, and they said I was mad,' said Bob, about how the jump had grown out of a conversation between friends who were discussing how to make a positive contribution to the fund.
Just after his 85th birthday, Bob plunged in freefall before his instructor at Skydive Hibaldstow opened the parachute for the rest of the descent, which took 15 minutes. 'It was a fantastic experience,' said Bob. 'We took the scenic descent and I could see the North Sea, the River Humber and all the local villages laid out beneath me. I didn't close my eyes once. I had a huge rush of adrenaline and a massive sense of achievement.
'Although I've done the jump, my feet haven't touched the ground since because of everything else that has happened.'
'Everything else' includes Bob being bestowed with the honour of the Knight of the Ancient Masonic Order of Alfred the Great by the Grand Master of the Order of Athelstan Paul Weldon Johnston. He was also promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Burgh for his contribution to Freemasonry, especially in the Masonic Order of Athelstan and the Court of Hyrnecastre No.102.
Bob enjoyed a surprise birthday party- under the guise of a meeting to discuss urgent masonic business. And Lincolnshire's PGM Dave Wheeler presented him with photos on behalf of the Province as a memento. 'What people have given is astonishing, and I'm really grateful,' said Bob.