The day I jumped out of an aeroplane

I wrote a begging email on 9 May 2015…


I’m going to jump out of an aeroplane on 20 June 2015 to raise money for Hospiscare and I’d really appreciate your support.

Hospiscare does amazing work in caring for terminally ill people and providing respite for their carers, and relies on the generosity of many people to continue this work. I have had a surprising number of connections with them, through friends, family friends, work, church, and singing. So I wanted to do something to help.

Why jump out of an aeroplane? Well, why not? I’m told that 15,000ft is the highest possible skydive without needing an oxygen supply. As an aside, my jump will also be part of a Guinness World Record attempt as the biggest ever worldwide tandem skydiving event.

Donating to my JustGiving page is easy – just follow this link and click Donate: JustGiving sends your donation straight to Hospiscare so it’s a quick and safe way to donate. Alternatively, I will accept cash and cheques!

More about Hospiscare…

“Hospiscare makes a difference for thousands of people in Exeter, mid and east Devon. We deliver a wide range of high-quality care to ensure our patients make the most out of life.

“Hospiscare is dedicated to changing attitudes, bringing choice and dignity to families and helping them through difficult times. We take a lead, we work with others and we change the lives of patients and those around them.

“We provide nurses, doctors, therapists and volunteers who help patients to lead as normal a life as possible, giving both physical and emotional support.

“Hospiscare is not funded by the government or the NHS. We raise over 4 million annually to provide our service free of charge to patients and their families. We rely on generous donations and fundraising from the community to keep our vital service running.”

So if you are able to help, I and Hospiscare would be very grateful.

Thank you,

PS. I signed up to this before the General Election, and despite the result I am still planning to wear a parachute!!

On 20 June, the forecast was this…

Mist, fog, dark coud, light cloud, rain – too much weather to be conducive to jumping. My jump was postponed, so I rescheduled for 3 July.

I wrote another email on 27 July to my supporters…

A belated report and thank you.

It happened! Touch and go, as my doctor’s form didn’t have the proper stamp, which meant panicked form-refilling and scanning and emailing and stamping and signing and scanning and emailing and printing and stapling.

But anticipation gradually took over from stress, and then there was the spiral up to the jump height, the shuffling forward on the benches towards the gaping door, and the moment of sheer panic as I knelt on the edge and was tipped forward into oblivion, and then we levelled out and I could enjoy the sense of freefall for an all-too-short minute.

My original date was 20th June, which was also supposed to be an attempt on the world record for most skydives from an airfield in one day, but that had to be postponed owing to too much weather. I thought I may as well rearrange the jump for my birthday, 3rd July, so I was treated to a rendition of Happy Birthday on the way up – sweet but atonal. My jump partner Andy also took a wrist camera, set to take regular stills. I could view the shots after we got back down to earth, but didn’t pay to keep them! The attached were taken by my uncle, who nobly came to watch and hang around (there was a lot of hanging around), and the partner of one of the other jumpers.

Visibility was excellent – Exeter, Honiton, the Exe Estuary, and as far as Portland, Hinkley Point, and South Wales. The ascent to 15,000ft took about 10 minutes, and the descent under parachute from about 5,000ft took about 3 minutes, so I had a goodly time to look about. Parachuting felt almost as gentle as air ballooning. We tried a bit of aerobatics – a strong yank on the right strings set us spinning sharply… and my stomach to churning, so we stopped that.

Then there was just time to appreciate the solar farm and the pool by our landing site used for pond swooping before Andy told me it was time to raise my legs, and we came gliding in to land on our backsides.

Thank you once again for your support. Hospiscare were very impressed with my total of over £1,800. Would I do it again? Yes maybe, to fully experience that 5 seconds of terror!