An 89-year-old great-grandfather will abseil 160 feet down the front of St Thomas’ hospital next week to raise money for charity.
Daredevil Frank Clark, who lives in the borough, is taking on the hair-raising challenge for Guy’s and St Thomas’ on Friday, May 10, having been treated at both hospitals in his life.
In 1944, aged just 14, Frank contracted tuberculosis and spent two-and-a-half years at Guy’s recovering from the potentially fatal illness. He said: “Back then, a lot of people died of TB. I was in the hospital for two and a half years, but I was one of the lucky ones.
“They looked after me all those years ago and I’m still under their care now.”
Now the grandfather to four and great-grandfather to six is taking on the adrenaline-fuelled challenge to thank the doctors and nurses who’ve looked after him over 74 years.
“I’ve been coming here for so long now and the doctors and nurses are all great,” he said.
“They don’t keep you waiting, they keep me informed and I’m able to have a bit of a laugh with them too.”
Age is no barrier for the adrenaline junkie, who first began his daredevil adventures after seeing one of his grandchildren skydiving.
“I live for today. Anything going, I’ll do it,” he said.
“Whenever there’s a do I’m the first one on the dancefloor and usually the last one to leave! You only have one life, so you might as well live it.”
Last year the 89-year-old completed a 100-foot high zip-line over the South Bank – and is already planning on doing a walk on the wing of plane.
He said: “I want to do a wing walk – where you’re strapped to the wing of a plane in flight. That’s the next thing to tick off the bucket list.”
Frank’s daughter, Rita Kearney, says she hasn’t inherited her dad’s daredevil spirit, but that she’s proud of him.
She said: “I think it’s amazing what he’s doing. He’s so independent and I never have to worry about him.”
When not engaging in daring challenges, Frank also runs a social club for retired men at Blackfriars Settlement, a charity. He set it up after realising there was nothing to do for older men he says.
They play darts, cards, table tennis and dominos – “anything the members want to do I try and sort out,” says Frank.
Dr Eui-Sik Suh, consultant respiratory physician at Lane Fox Respiratory Service, where Frank is a patient, said he was “hugely grateful” to Frank for raising money for the hospital.
“He certainly displays far more courage than his doctor. Good luck!” said Dr Suh.
So far, the 89-year-old has raised £250.
If you want to donate, you can find his page here.