28th May 2006
I first heard about CRY about a year ago when a good friend got involved with the charity. The more I learned what the charity was about the more I was motivated to help.
When I decided to do a tandem skydive (something that had terrified me for the last twenty years!!) it was clear to me that this was an opportunity where the money I could raise would make a big difference to a small charity.
The day began at 6am. After a quick shower I donned multiple layers of ski clothing for the cool descent ahead. We arrived in Maidstone at 8am, registered and then had our jump briefing. The most alarming bit was being told how I would have to hang outside of the plane in my harness as I looked over my left shoulder so that my video guy could get a good photo of me exiting the plane! The most thankful bit was to be given permission to scream as much as I could – that way breathing is possible during the 40 second skydive at 120mph! The most reassuring bit was to learn that the parachute had a fail-safe device – in the event that the main chute was not deployed, then the reserve would be automatically triggered at 700ft – phew, what a relief!
We then waited a gruelling 5 hours for my turn in the roster of jumpers.
The weather was so fine that the airfield was buzzing with crazy people waiting to jump and the sky was routinely littered with bright canopies and little bodies dangling below…everyone that went up, came down!
Then, the icy stillness was broken by the calling of my name, clear and loud, over the tannoy – it was my turn – my heart raced!
I got kitted up in a nice aqua suit, donned a fetching silver helmet with goggles (you need them so your eyes don’t pop out – I put them on straight away!).
I then met my instructor, Chris, who walked me out to the plane…..he promptly told me I didn’t need the goggles until I actually left the plane and said I could take them off (my squished face, apparently was making him laugh).
“So” I said to Chris “how many jumps have you done?” he smiled and said “This is my 11,257th time” – my blood pressure reduced a little – I was with a professional!…. I passed the time by doing a little mental arithmetic…..he looked about 40, he started jumping when he was 19, so that would be 21 times 365 divided into 11,257…..I never did work it out but it was a great distraction!
We boarded the plane and then took off (the door remained wide open!) and the climb to 12,000ft took a very short time. This was one trip where the gin & tonics would not be flowing in the aisles! Chris kept me chatting, did some deep breathing techniques with me and then we all sang “Happy Birthday” as one of our fellow tandem students was there for her birthday – her 60th birthday!
Before I could summon too many nerves (thank goodness I decided to eat lunch after the jump!) it was time to exit the plane – the first 5 jumpers were a formation team (maybe next time?) who departed en mass….and then, before I knew it, there I was, perched at an open door!…..looking down from 12,000ft….dangling from the back of a twin engine plane…..strapped to Chris, my new best friend!
With a blink of an eye and an ear piercing scream (mine, not Chris), we were away!!!!….I was flying….screaming!…….remembering to look to camera as my video guy shot my descent (this was a one time event – no second takes!)…screaming!….giving the thumbs up to say I was OK…screaming!….and the funny thing is…..screaming!……I didn’t feel like I was falling at all… screaming!….it’s the weirdest and most exhilarating experience of my life….screaming….the air just cushions you – you have no falling sensation at all (very weird).
I could handle this better than that Rockin’ Roller Coaster ride that my daughter Rebecca made me go on the other year at Disneyland!
We dived through a cloud – clouds are FUN! A fine cool mist covered my face
Before I could say to myself “oh-my-god-am-I-really-doing-this?” we reached 5,000ft and Chris had pulled his rip cord….our canopy filled….breathe…..awesome…..breathe…..I could see the earth……breathe….the fields…..breathe….the south coast stretched out before me…..squeal with sheer delight……That’s when I saw this ridiculously small circle of shingle on the ground “That” Chris said “is where we’re going to land” – yeah, right! Before I knew it, I was hitching my knees up, crossing my arms and before I could finish the phrase in my head “land with knees bent, don’t fall on your face or land on your bum”, there I was, sat smiling in the grass (yes I landed bum first – no bruises as I am well padded in that area!).
I felt exhilarated, I had done it ! About 5 minutes to travel 12,000ft!….I couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear….scary? yes a little, awesome? absolutely! and as my video guy moved in for his last shot…….. I found myself saying a set of words that I never thought I’d say “Sure, I’ll do it again….”…..maybe for my 60th birthday treat…!
.And my quote of the day?……well I think Gandhi sums it up when he said:
“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire it even if I may not have it in the beginning”
I held the belief that I couldn’t do such a scary thing for the last 20 yrs (those of you who know me well, know that I have done some pretty scary things!)…..and then 4 months ago I challenged and changed that limiting belief (all thanks to my coach!)….I said goodbye to the fear of flying so high, so freely and without a safety rope attached – and it feels great!…..the sky, now, is no limit….
Here are Jacqui’s hints and tips for raising money. She managed to raise an amazing total over £3,500 including Gift Aid.
Advice before the jump!
- Registering and creating a justgiving web page is very easy.
- Set yourself a challenging target.
- Put a picture of yourself on the website. This will really help fundraising, as it makes it more personal.
- E-mail everyone you know – personal e-mails are better than groups – individuals are likely to respond. Give people plenty of time – I started 2-3 months before the event.
- As well as the automated ‘thank you’, when someone sponsors you, send them a personal thank you too.
- Add in funds raised off line so that your total reflects what you have raised.
- When you reach your target, increase it by another £100 – if people see that you have already reached your target, they will donate less.
- If you work within a large company that has department intranet sites – post a news item to advertise your jump.
- Follow up people who promise to sponsor you around a month after your first request. – they may have forgotten.
- Send a FINAL e-mail 1 week before the event (to those who haven’t sponsored you)
- Advice for when you’re back on solid ground!
- After the event, within a few days, send an e-mail to everyone who sponsored you, thanking them again and celebrating how much you have raised.
- Tell them about your day and what happened.
- Post an update on your intranet site (if applicable) with your justgiving website address in case anyone else wants to sponsor you.