He’s raised over £104,000 to support injured Paratroopers and now he’s been skydiving with the Red Devils
Doing a parachute jump for charity is pretty special, but being invited to do it with the British Army’s official display team, the ‘Red Devils’ is on another level entirely.
Jumping alongside members of the elite parachute team is an experience that most people will never be able to claim, but as far as the Parachute Regiment are concerned D Block’s Steve ‘Froggy’ Gaut is not ‘most people’ and we’re inclined to agree with them.
Over ten years ago Steve turned on his TV after getting home from his night shift and saw four young soldiers being interviewed during an operational tour of Afghanistan.
Witnessing the disparity between the dangers they were putting themselves in for the relatively low wages a young soldier earns just didn’t sit right with Steve or as he put it “Getting shot at for £250 a week, just weren’t on.”
Earlier that year on the 12th June 2008, Pte Jeff ‘JJ’ Doherty, part of the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, was tragically killed in an ambush just two days after his 20th Birthday.
Even though Steve had no previous military connection himself or relationship with the familiy he felt compelled to help and in 2009 reached out to JJ’s family to offer his support.
Starting with a local charity night hosted at a friend’s club, Steve has since gone on to grow the fundraising events so that they now average over 500 attendees at each one, filling large venues each year across his native Coventry.
He has raised over £104,000 to date for the JJ Memorial Fund, a charity set up in memory of JJ to help injured Paratroopers and support the families of those killed in action.
Last year Steve received accolades for his work including the Coventry Telegraph’s Coventry & Warwickshire Heroes Awards 2017 for Fundraising, but as the families and paratroopers he has befriended will tell you the “modest” and “humble” Froggy isn’t in it for the limelight.
This close, ongoing relationship is however what led to him being invited by the Red Devils along to Langar Airfield, near Nottingham to exit a perfectly serviceable aircraft at over 13,000ft.
“To say I was bricking it beforehand would be an understatement,” said Steve. “But I knew with those boys I was in safe hands. Freefalling for 40 seconds at speeds of 120mph was an unbelievable experience, one that I won’t forget.”
If you’d like to show your support you can make a donation to JJ’s fund at: jjsmemorialfund.co.uk/home/make-a-donation/
Or even better, why not attend Froggy’s next fundraiser?
The Christmas Charity Night takes place on the 8th December at the Royal Court Hotel in Coventry. With a three course meal and two bands and a ‘West End Star‘ all for just £50.