Lord of the Rings star Bruce Hopkins has just turned 68 years old, and to celebrate his birthday he somersaulted 68 times off a 6m-high diving platform. Flipping mad? Maybe, but he did it for a great cause.

Hopkins completed the dizzying feat in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter last Tuesday and raised money for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, a charity he is very passionate about.

It breaks my heart to think that the grandparent/grandchild relationship has to change for these people — and usually it’s very traumatic circumstances,” he said.

Hopkins is a grandfather himself and had his whole family cheered him on while he completed his philanthropic flips. Asked if he felt inspired to somersault like his grandfather, Hopkins’ seven-year-old grandson said, “Yes, when I’m 68 years old”.

This isn’t the first time Hopkins has taken on a challenge to raise money for charity. Last year he completed 67 somersaults off his local wharf in Herne Bay, and in 2018 he walked the entire Te Araroa trail, raising $30,000 for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.

‘He’s fantastic’

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren acting CEO Judith McKay was impressed as Hopkins soared through the sky.

“I mean, he’s fantastic. A 68-year-old that looks like that,” she said.

When Hopkins was halfway through his leaps, it was noticeable that fatigue started to set in. Not only was he hitting the water at speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour, but he also had to swim 20 meters to exit the water, climb around 50 steps, and then do it all over again.

“You’d kind of think that it might get easier but every time I’m there it’s like don’t screw it up man,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins used some of his skills as an actor to overcome mental challenges. He recalled the self-talk he used on the set while filming The Lord of the Rings.

“You’re here for a reason, so stay calm and try to focus,” he said.

It took Hopkins two and a half hours to complete his 68 somersaults. His last jump was extra special with his two sons by his side.

As for his grandson Freddy? Watch this space — 61 years from now, he might just follow in his Poppa’s nimble footsteps.

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