A 75-year-old man had to be airlifted to hospital after diving off the cliff at Durdle Door.

Grandfather Christopher Irven said he felt he had gone 10 rounds with a heavyweight boxer after a ‘swallow dive’ went wrong, leaving him with injuries to his groin and stomach.

He said: “The dive was a bit of a cock-up and I hit the water at a bad angle – it was too shallow. My face, chest, tummy and legs took a battering. It was rather like being badly winded and my bits hurt a bit.

“I started to swim back to shore but couldn’t and my two sons and another fella came and got me out. I lay down and a bit of shock set in – then the medics arrived and said I ought to go to hospital.”

The retired Army major, from Gillingham, had completed a gruelling 2,000 mile cycle ride round Britain and raised more than £15,000 for Help for Heroes just two months earlier.

“I might be 75 years old but I am very fit for my age and fairly adventurous. I tend to do things that might be daunting to other people,” he said.

South Western Ambulance alerted the coastguard just after 3pm on Sunday, requesting assistance for a swimmer.

Lulworth Coastguard Rescue team was sent to the scene and the helicopter was scrambled. Mr Irven was taken to Dorset County Hospital at Dorchester and discharged the same evening.

Lulworth Coastguard Rescue team was sent to the scene and, after assessing the casualty, called for the Coastguard Rescue helicopter. Portland Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre watch manager, Ros Evans, said: “We believe the casualty was diving 30ft into the water with members of his family and may have landed badly in the water and experienced severe abdominal pain. The Coastguard Rescue officers assisted with his evacuation by rescue helicopter.

“The casualty was then taken to Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester, to be met by the Wyke Coastguard Rescue team and the South Western Ambulance.”

Earlier his month beachgoers watched in horror as a youngster plunged from the 200ft high arch.

It was initially feared that the teenager, believed to be about 18, was stuck on the landmark and the emergency services were alerted.

The Portland Coastguard helicopter Rescue 106 was scrambled and a rescue team was despatched from Lulworth to save the man but while they were on their way he jumped from the rocky edge.

Bruce Lack, watch manager for Portland Coastguard, said the man was lucky to survive without killing or ‘maiming’ himself as he could have landed on rocks or in shallow water when he jumped.