Like most people, Ray Cumming admits he gets a little bit nervous when he looks over the edge of a cliff and naturally looks for something to grab onto.

So the thought of hurtling through the air strapped to the top of a stunt plane with a 440 brake horse power engine beneath you sounds like more than enough to give anyone vertigo.

But not 80-year-old Ray, who conducted his very own daredevil wing walk in a bid to raise money for Acorns Children ' s Hospice in Birmingham.

Ray decided to take part in the stunt after his life was saved by the work of expert surgeons ten years ago. They carried out vital heart surgery on him but could only guarantee him five more years of life.

Now, a decade on, Ray, who is still the chairman of an engineering firm in Birmingham, felt it was time to pay something back to society for what he described as his "bonus years".

He said: "I decided to do this because I thought it was about time for me to give something back to society and to those that have had less good fortune than myself.

"I thought I had to do something astonishing that would trigger people into giving money and came up with this."

Ray served in the RAF in Italy during the Second World War, manning the gunner's turret in a Boston bomber, but never thought of his nighttime sorties over enemy positions at 10,000ft as courageous. On the contrary, he baulks at any suggestion of heroism. He said: "There was nothing brave about what we did, it was just a job and I know that sounds cliched but it was. It was just pure self-preservation.

"The bravery those children show at the hospice is real bravery because they are all facing an uncertain, life-threatening future they can do nothing about, and yet they get on with it without complaint."

Ray clambered on top of a Boeing Stearman bi-plane at Rendcomb Airfield, just outside of Cirencester in Gloucestershire, and did not bat an eyelid at being strapped to the top of the plane.

"It was most difficult for my wife even though we were only up there for 15 minutes and she was very relieved when we landed. I'd really like to do a loop-the-loop but I have had my wings clipped now and am well and truly grounded."

So far he has raised £4,000 for the hospice but he is hoping eventually to raise £15,000.