Jim Crocker Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Sport Skydiving
The award, kindly donated by Vice President Jim Crocker, recognises an exceptional and sustained contribution to the sport over an extended period of time. It is not made annually, but on an occasional basis.
Jim was a member of the British Parachute Association for over 50 years, gaining his Advanced Instructor and Instructor Examiner ratings. He was the Chief Instructor of the Midland Parachute Centre and the leader of the Royal Green Jackets Parachute Display Team. Jim enjoyed huge success during his time as a sky diver, including becoming European sky diving champion at championships held in Austria. He also competed in two world cups in South Africa and one in Germany and many major international competitions in other countries around the world. He was a former chairman of the BPA Safety and Training Committee (1971 to 1980), an elected Chair of the BPA (1983 to 1990), and subsequently a Vice President of the BPA. In terms of the wider air sports industry, Jim was an elected chairman of the Royal Aero Club of the UK (RAeC) and subsequently a Vice President. He was the chairman of the Royal Aero Club Trust, a registered charity. Jim passed away in January 2019 aged 73.
The award comprises a trophy in the form of a mounted sword that is presented to the recipient, whose name is recorded on the mounting. Recipients do not retain the trophy but receive a certificate to keep. The Jim Crocker Sword is presented to the recipient at the Royal Aero Club Annual Awards.
2019: GRAHAM SPICER
Graham has been a full member for the best part of three decades and has selflessly applied his extensive repertoire of skills to a major development in British Skydiving’s core function of membership management.
Membership management is safety critical, because accurate recording of
members’ ratings and qualifications in the sport is an integral part of safety management.
The British Skydiving membership database, designed and developed in 1998, had been in use long beyond its design life. A step change was required a leap forward of over 20 years in technology in one single bound to give members and staff a fit for purpose tool to administer British Skydiving membership in the 2020s.
Graham Spicer’s career experience in corporate IT and project management has, through his sheer generosity of his time and expertise that he has given to us in his early retirement, provided an expert resource from which all members and staff, and the sport overall, benefit. Graham’s
skills set has perfectly filled a far bigger hole in our human resources than we realised we had.
Graham’s involvement as client side project coordinator for British Skydiving has been a virtuoso performance. Although the PIMS and new web hub project being fulfilled by our external contractor Eudonet (UK) is a small project compared with many that Graham was used to in his business career, the myriad complexities of our project should not be underestimated.
Graham also served as Chair and Secretary of the IT Strategy Group from its formation in 2015 to spring 2019, making a seminal contribution to the development of British Skydiving’s IT and digital capability and infrastructure.
A quite different string to Graham’s bow is that he is one of two members who founded our Archive Project in the year of our 50th anniversary in 2011, and remains an Archivist, together with co-archivist Andrew Hilton.
Graham is an authority on the history of British Skydiving, and sitting down with him with a pot of tea or something stronger for a fireside reminiscence guarantees a captivating time of hugely engaging narrative.
2018: ROB COLPUS
Rob Colpus is an icon in the world of sport parachuting who has made us so proud on both the national and international stage in an abundance of competitions and records. Over the years, he wrote a lot of the rules for Formation Skydiving competitions and designed many of the dives that remain in use today.
His contribution to our sport since the 1970s is magnificent and varied, continuing long after he stepped down as an active competitor.
2017: JACKIE SMITH
Jackie joined the Parachute Regiment’s Freefall Display Team – the Red Devils – in 1971. She has won numerous Nationals in Style and Accuracy and in Formation Skydiving. In 1978, she took World Gold in Female Accuracy, being the first person in the world of either gender to consecutively score 10 0.00cm hits on an electronic pad at a World Parachuting Championships. Jackie continued to compete and win medals and awards for many years after that.
She has toured the UK coaching and helping others to develop their skydiving skills and she remains a beacon of inspiration in our sport. Jackie is also an inductee to the USA-based Skydiving Hall of Fame.
2016: JOHN HITCHEN
John Hitchen, or ‘Hitch’ as he’s affectionately known by one and all, seems to have been around forever. He joined the Parachute Regiment in 1956, made his first sport parachuting descent in 1973 and got hooked.
A Yorkshire lad, Hitch started the Sheeld School of Freefall Parachuting and spent many years at Wickenby, Elvington and Sturgate and served on Council before taking on the staff role of BPA National Coach and Safety Officer in 1981. The rest, as they say, is history.
We couldn’t get rid of Hitch until he retired in 2013 at the age of 75. To this day, he remains a hugely respected figure in our sport’s international federation.
2012: JOHN & DEBBIE CARTER
John Carter has been parachuting since 1973. He has made over 4,000 jumps and has been qualified in a number of areas. He has been a Category System, AFF and Tandem instructor.
He has also been an Authorised Pilot and Examiner. He is an FS and FF coach. He is a general medical practitioner and has been Medical Adviser to British Skydiving since 1990. He deals with around 300 enquiries a year on a wide range of issues and has been involved in a variety of important committees, working parties and training courses. He has played a major part in enhancing the safety of the sport.
Debbie Carter was the Treasurer of the British Skydiving for over 20 years. Her diligent, reliable and constant work made a major contribution to the smooth-running and cost effective operation of the Association and advising on all aspects of finance.
2011: HELMUT CLOTH
In 1986, Helmut Cloth lost a good friend in a fatal skydiving accident. This made him determined to find a way to reduce the risk of the same thing happening to other skydivers.
At that time, mechanical devices that opened reserve parachutes were either barometric or clockwork units that were invariably heavy, and in some cases unreliable. After four years of intensive research, Helmut Cloth developed a new parachute release system based on cybernetics, and began field trials. Known as Cypres – cybernetic parachute release system – this automatic activation device is a small, lightweight electronic unit with almost no working parts and very little user interface, which makes it highly reliable. The device activates automatically at a preset altitude if the rate of the parachutist’s descent is over a specific threshold.
The units went into production by Helmut’s company, Airtec, and made their first live save in 1991. In 2003, a smaller and lighter version was launched, which is still in use today.
Helmut remains an active skydiver, and he maintains his hands on approach to the continuing development of his invention in its various applications.
To date, more than 198,000 Cypres units have been sold worldwide and approximately 5100 lives have been saved.
2010: BRIAN LAITHWAITE
The 2010 Jim Crocker Trophy for an Outstanding Contribution to Sport Parachuting was awarded to Brian Laithwaite in memoriam. Brian was an exceptional coach/load organiser who over the years served as CCI at two Drop Zones, and devoted decades of dedicated commitment to training the next generation of skydivers.
Brian’s enthusiasm and sheer love of the sport shone like a beacon. No-one was ever left out with Brian. He knew how to make learning fun. His greatest satisfaction was to see his fledglings fly, and many have gone on to make their own mark on the sport. Brian suffered a fatal entanglement in summer 2010.
He lives on in the memory of so many skydivers who look back with tremendous affection on the direction, fun and solace they enjoyed in their formative time under his wing.
2009: TONY KNIGHT
Tony Knight is one of the stalwarts of our sport, a long-time jumper, former DZ Operator of Affiliated Centres first in Ipswich and later in Norfolk, a former Chairman of the British Parachute Association Pilots’ Committee and for many years has been our key negotiator on aviation with the CAA.
2007: CLAIRE ‘SPARKY’ SCOTT
By the end of 2007, Claire ‘Sparky’ Scott was probably our most successful skydiver ever – despite holding a demanding full-time job that has nothing whatsoever to do with skydiving. Claire belonged to the female 4-way Formation Skydiving team that won the World Cups in 1999 and 2002, and the World Championships in 2003 and 2006 and is a current World and National Champion.
She earned her CSI rating and teaches static line beginners. She is a personable and popular member and has been a real inspiration for up-and-coming skydivers through her commitment to coaching including as a coach for the Skills Coaching Roadshows, where she made her world-class expertise available to nourish the grass roots of our sport throughout the UK.