MS Trust Fundraising Officer Jess Wright tells us about the Big Blue Jump which took place during MS Awareness Week and her own impromptu parachute jump.
The morning of Saturday 2 May was an early one. We were heading down to Chiltern Park Aerodrome in Oxfordshire to meet all our supporters taking part in the Big Blue Jump, the MS Trust’s parachuting day to mark the end of MS Awareness Week 2015. I was slightly nervous as the clouds formed, knowing we had people travelling from across the country (and two families taking a ferry from the Isle of Wight) to take part in the event. We had our fingers crossed that the weather, the skydive event planner’s biggest opponent, wouldn’t ruin this day. Little did I know this was the least of my worries for the day ahead…
The clouds clear
It was really great to meet all 11 participants and their families and friends who had travelled miles to support them on the day. As the clouds were clearing, the first two MS Trust skydivers were up in a plane ready to go. Eddie Murphy (in his pink onesie) and Ben Clarke floated to the ground with smiles from ear to ear.
Next up was David Optholt, who bravely jumped and landed safely back on the ground, then Paul Drake stepped up to the mark and took the leap of faith. Paul had previously suggested I should take part – I’d quickly changed the subject!
Later in the day it was Donna James and Anthony Morris’ turn to go up in a plane, along with Aurore Palomba and Ksenia Goryainova. They faced their fears together and completed their tandem skydives.
It was so great to see everyone in the group get through the nerves and the anticipation, fly up to 10,000 feet and jump out of a plane. You could ask yourself, why go through it all? It was clear that each of the participants wanted to take part because MS had affected their lives in one way or another and they wanted to make a difference.
No place to hide
You are probably wondering how I got to be part of this day, other than happily cheering our skydivers back to the airfield from the side lines. The suggestion was made for me to take part not just in a conversation with Paul, but on a loud speaker (thanks to Emma and Martin from the London Parachute School) followed by cheers and agreements from the MS Trust crowd! There was no place to hide! Having seen the others complete their skydives and face their fears, frankly there was no real excuse for me not to take part.
Next thing I know, I am whisked off to complete my skydive training, there is no going back now! I was lucky enough to join MS Trust supporters Alyson, Jeanette and Jennifer in the plane.
Bit of a blur
Lots of people have asked me what it was like. To be honest it was a bit of a blur. When Paul (my tandem instructor) and I hung out of the plane doors it was really scary, but there was no time to be scared as the next thing I knew we were freefalling really, really, really fast into the clouds over the Oxfordshire countryside. This was simply exhilarating. I screamed… a lot (sorry Paul).
When the parachute was deployed the fast, noisy, rush quickly changed to silence. This just demonstrated how high up we were, miles away from any noise from the ground (except for the giggles from Paul at HOW MUCH I screamed). The view was amazing, something that cannot be compared to any HD screen, and stretched for miles and miles. The only thing in front of your view is your feet dangling over it all as you look down. This was the time I could take in everything around me and what I will remember the most – gliding and spinning back to the ground with one big (blue) bump! As the last skydiver of the Big Blue Jump the grin on my face must have mirrored everyone else’s I had already seen that day.
A day I will never forget
I am so glad I got to meet all the wonderful people who joined us for the Big Blue Jump on 2 May 2015 and made the day one I will never, ever forget.
If you are thinking of taking part in a skydive, DO IT! I hate flying and, if anything, I think it helped me to feel better for the next time I travel by plane. It is an such an incredible feeling which is only made better knowing that the money you raise from doing it will help those living with MS today!
I would like to say an extra thank you to Nigel Synnott and Brian Charlesworth, who unfortunately couldn’t take part but came to support on the day!