Actor Bruce Hopkins has a flippin’ good birthday, with 67 leaps off a wharf

For his 67th birthday, Bruce Hopkins got up early and backflipped 67 times into the ocean.

But it wasn’t just for fun – he was raising money for a charity working to support grandparents raising their mokopuna. He had raised nearly $2000 by 11am.

Hopkins, a long-time actor and grandparent himself, has lived in and around the water all his life. But he’d never attempted what he managed on Friday morning.

Up and away: Bruce Hopkins was getting tired by the end, but he wasn't going to give up shy of his goal.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

Up and away: Bruce Hopkins was getting tired by the end, but he wasn’t going to give up shy of his goal.

On a sunny morning at Auckland’s Herne Bay, Hopkins spent barely an hour getting in and out of the water on his mission to do 67 flips without injuring himself, or getting too exhausted.

READ MORE:
* Stuff reporter cuts three years worth of hair to be made into a wig
* Charity’s cute crochet creations changing lives in the Philippines
* ‘They do it for love’: Lockdown throws up extra challenges for grandparents raising their grandchildren

Most jumps were from about 2.5m above the water, but every 10th flip was from 4m up, from a pole on the wharf.

With encouragement from his son, Tom Hopkins – who joined him for the 67th jump – Hopkins managed all 67 with relative ease, although his shins were a bit worse for wear by the end.

The most he had ever somersaulted in a row before was 20, on Thursday morning. Even then, 67 wasn’t enough – he finished the morning with a 68th leap off the wharf: a swan dive into the ocean.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

“Why didn’t I do this for my 40th?” Hopkins laughed, soon after he did his 40th jump.

Hopkins – who starred as Gamling in the second two films in the Lord of the Rings trilogy – is fundraising for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ (GRG), which supports grandparents who take care of their mokopuna when their children cannot.

They focus on advocating for grandparents in legal matters, when dealing with Oranga Tamariki and even with basics like shelter, food and clothing.

Hopkins had a fair bit of debris and even litter to contend with after days of rain in Auckland.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

Hopkins had a fair bit of debris and even litter to contend with after days of rain in Auckland.

With three grandchildren of his own and another due in January, Hopkins said he’d been dwelling on how privileged his own relationship with them is.

“A lot of these grandparents don’t have a lot of resources, they are just getting by. Then, they are no longer the unconditionally-loving person in their grandchildren’s life, they are telling them ‘hurry up’, ‘get changed’, ‘get to school’, ‘where have you put that?’

“Grandparents lose that freedom that can come with growing older, and it’s very full on.”

Bruce Hopkins walked the 3000km Te Araroa Trail in 2017 and 2018 (file photo from May 2018).

Robyn Edie/Stuff

Bruce Hopkins walked the 3000km Te Araroa Trail in 2017 and 2018 (file photo from May 2018).

It’s Hopkins’ second time raising money for GRG. In 2017 and 2018he raised around $30,000 while hiking from Cape Reinga to Bluff on the Te Araroa Trail.

GRG chief executive officer Kate Bundle was at the wharf to support Hopkins, and had a bottle of champagne ready to thank him for his efforts.

Hopkins is a fourth generation Stewart Islanderraised in Russell swimming at the wharf nearly every day after school.

“I’m still working, and I do a lot of voluntary work, so I consider it part of my sanity package,he said.

Bruce Hopkins made light work of 67 backflips in a row off Wairangi Wharf in Herne Bay.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

Bruce Hopkins made light work of 67 backflips in a row off Wairangi Wharf in Herne Bay.

“I don’t like the idea of ​​growing old, so while I can, then I’ll get out there and do stuff.”

He had to be careful: the tide can be strong, and the steps in and out of the water are barnacled and slippery.

His son Tom made sure to have a rescue buoy on hand in case the backflips went south.

RYAN ANDERSON/STUFF

“Your whole world can turn upside down in one minute,” says grandmother Shirley Afoa, who is raising three of her grandchildren after they were orphaned in 2016.

As of Monday, November 21, there were more than 16,000 children recorded as being raised by their grandparents, Bundle said – some 9,500 grandparents in 6,056 families.

Bundle said the charity is helping with housing more than ever before amid the growing housing crisis: 900% more than three years ago.

Leave a Comment