A British Royal Marines corporal has taken a heart-stopping leap to help keep sick Kiwi children's hearts beating.

Corporal Steve Wilson, 30, of Her Majesty's Royal Marine Band Service, jumped off the Sky Tower on Wednesday as part of his efforts to raise money for the heart unit at Starship Children's Hospital.

Corporal Wilson is on exchange with the Royal New Zealand Navy Band and has been at the Devonport naval base for four months. He plays the flute and saxophone.

In full uniform, he saluted during the leap while the Devonport navy band below played a tune called Birdland. "It was fantastic, but I won't be doing it again in a hurry," he said after landing.

The leap raised $335 from bystanders. He had already reached his $2000 target, but he plans to keep on fundraising to give something back to the people of New Zealand who he says have been so good to him. He returns to Britain in a month.

The RNZN band has been collecting for the charity at a number of concerts.

Corporal Wilson will present a cheque to the Starship Foundation on September 2 after a navy band concert at the Bruce Mason Centre.

By Nikki Carmichael

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