Proud PE paratroopers win national award

2019-03-27 06:01
Bay Canopy members, André van Niekerk and Ken Nosworthy, with their prestigious award for best canopy in the country.                               Photo:KAILIN DANIELS

Bay Canopy members, André van Niekerk and Ken Nosworthy, with their prestigious award for best canopy in the country. Photo:KAILIN DANIELS

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A PORT Elizabeth-based parabat veterans organisation, Bay Canopy, has recently won an award for the best parachute canopy in the country.

This after its establishment four years ago in the hope of keeping the airborne spirit alive.

Bay Canopy chairperson, André van Niekerk, expressed his gratitude for receiving the prestigious award and hopes to recruit more paratroopers.

“We are in awe of this award and grateful to have received it. We are a very small canopy group and to become the best in the country, is unbelievable.

“Many more awards await us and we would like to recruit more parabats – the more, the merrier,” Van Niekerk said.

The team was awarded the best canopy trophy for excelling in assisting fellow veteran paratroopers in need.

Essentially, the well-being of all parabats and their families is their primary concern.

Van Niekerk added, “Many of us are reaching the age where retirement and redundancy become threats to our continued welfare.

“Some of us have been suffering from the strain of wounds and disabilities sustained during our years as soldiers, as well as suffered after our military service ended.

“Others have been made redundant by retrenchments or affirmative action.

“All these people need help and support in their daily lives, sometimes of a temporary nature and at times ongoing.”

One of the members of Bay Canopy, Ken Nosworthy, scooped an award and earned his wings for 50 years of membership within the veterans’ organisation and parabat brotherhood.

Nosworthy commented, “I’m very chuffed and humbled by this award.

“The brotherhood has been a major part of my life and I will recommend joining a club to anyone.

“When you’re up in the sky, it’s a feeling of freedom and I became addicted to it.”

The oldest Bay Canopy member is 76 years old and the youngest is 44.

Their motto, “No man left behind nor forgotten”, has been their inspiration to launch a national multifunction fund-raiser in October 2016.

According to Van Niekerk, the aim of the fund-raiser is to bring the remains of a fallen parabat, Andries ‘Skillie’ Human, back to South Africa. Parabat ‘Skillie’ was declared missing on May 4, 1978, in Cassinga, when he presumably crash-landed in the Culonga River in Angola while the rest of the parabats returned to base in Namibia after the mission.

Van Niekerk added, “We form part of a brotherhood and we strive to keep that alive. We have a tradition at Bay Canopy that whenever someone buys a beer or drink, we buy parabat Skillie one as well and put the money in a small box.”

Bay Canopy would like to invite Eastern Cape members of the public who are jump or special forces to join the organisation.

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