I know that the team at Sebastian’s Action Trust are delighted we have raised so much and I’m so pleased that we can help local families and children who really need this support.
THANK YOU to EVERYONE who has helped me to raise that amount. To everyone who came to the Expo, all of the fabulous stall holders and taster session people, JV Bouncy Castle hire who let us have the bouncy castle for free, everyone who contributed a prize to the raffle, those who bid on the Secret Auction, who sponsored me for my Sky Dive, and those of you who have been very supportive along the way.
I don’t seem to be able to share the video of my Sky Dive on the blog, so I will share it via my facebook profile, Louise NHM Smith, this evening.
In true “me” fashion, I’m already in the process of planning the NHM Winter 2015 Expo and am planning to raise funds for Piam Brown ward in Southampton, who care for children from birth to 16 years of age with all types of cancer.
Once I have the date secured for the Winter Expo, I will let you know.
Thank you so much for all of your support! NHM wouldn’t be as successful as it is, without you!
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It was my third attempt. The first time I sat and waited for 5 hours for the clouds to clear. The second time I received a text the night before saying that my Sky Dive was cancelled because of the rain.
The third time, I was expecting my jump to be cancelled right up until the last minute.
I had already decided that I wanted to jump on my own and not have anyone wait with me. It can be very boring, waiting for people to jump, and I knew Miss NHM wouldn’t have the patience to wait.
I booked my jump, the third time, for the earliest jump I could do, which was 9am. On the drive down I kept looking at the sky and watching the small blue patches, thinking that it was still too grey to jump.
I arrived at Go Sky Dive, in Salisbury, at 8.30am. There were several of us who were “Re-bookers” waiting for the reception to open. Once reception had opened, we had to wait for half an hour for people to watch the instruction video. I had watched the video the first time I had tried to jump so didn’t need to watch it again.
As part of the video you see what to expect and then they ask you to practice the “Sky Dive” position that you need to take for when the stabiliser parachute goes up. (I can’t remember the technical terms as I was a bit distracted on the day! lol). They also explain how the harness works and what you need to focus on when you jump.
At about 9.30am I was called to get kitted out. I had a lovely jump suit, hat and goggles on, as you can see in the pictures below.
I also got to meet the instructor that I was jumping with, Lee, who had a great sense of humour and seemed to know what he was doing! :-D.
We then had to practice all of the positions that we would need whilst jumping. There are harnesses hanging from the ceiling in the marquee and we had to practice the position we needed to be in when leaving the plane and the position we needed to be in when the plane landed.
Once we had practised that, we then went into the “holding pen” outside and waited to board the plane. I had a video taken (which I will share if I make £1K in sponsorship via NHM!!!) and got to meet my cameraperson, Lucy. I had to stand and answer a few questions and COMPLETELY forgot to mention that I was jumping for Sebastian’s Action Trust, because I was still not expecting to actually jump.
We then got to board the plane. At this point I wasn’t nervous at all. If I had jumped the first time, I think I would have been wetting myself with fear, but because it was the third time I still didn’t think it was actually going to happen!
We all crammed into the plane. I was literally sat on Lee’s lap and had the rucksack of the instructor in front of me, on my lap. It wasn’t exactly comfortable!
However, the views were AMAZING! It took about 12 minutes to get to 15,000 which is the highest point you can jump from in the UK. Originally I was going to jump from 10,000 feet but knew that I wouldn’t ever be doing a Sky Dive again, so I thought “in for a penny, in for a pound” and upgraded to 15,000. I’m very glad I did.
I was very excited at this point. Not very nervous at all. Then the lights in front of me on the plane turned to green and I knew it was time to go.
It all happened so very fast.
There were two people in front of me and before I knew it, they were gone….
Then Lee tapped me on the shoulder, we shuffled forward, and I had to hang my legs out of the plane so that my feet were touching the bottom of the plane and arch my back so that I was in the right position.
Then we were tumbling out of the plane. I hadn’t expected this and it was a little bit disorienting but you can see on the video that the stabilising parachute released once we were clear of the plane.
I cannot describe how ABSOLUTELY AMAZING the Sky Dive bit was. If I could jump every day, I would. The views were spectacular. I could see as far as Bournemouth and Poole and could see the Isle of Wight and Southampton very clearly.
The whole way down I was saying “WOW!!!”. It really was spectacular.
Lee said to me, before we jumped, that there was one thing I need to remember…”to look good on camera!”.
Lucy was flying around me and videoing and it was really amazing. I wanted to spend more time looking down, than at the camera, because the views were so awesome.
Then, about 6o seconds later, the second parachute opened and we shot back up into the sky.
And the less said about the parachute bit, the better! :-D.
I get very seasick at the best of times. I had not anticipated, at all, that the parachute bit would be like being on a REALLY rough sea.
Lee asked me if I wanted to do any “turns” and I politely declined. Then I asked where the sick would go if I puked. He said “backwards” and I had to let him know when I was going to be sick so he could tap which arm pit I needed to be sick under!!!!
He kept telling me to focus on the horizon so I did and it was like being in the worst roller coaster you’ve even been on. Very disorientating and all I could think was “don’t be sick and where’s the bloody camera girl cause I do not want this on video!!!!”. (I didn’t know that Lucy has stopped filming as soon as the second parachute had released so THANKFULLY none of my parachute jump was caught on camera. Phew!)
When we landed, I lay on the floor for about 15 minutes. I had to shut my eyes and try to stabilise myself. Lucy was on the ground a lot faster than us and had my legs in the air pretty much as soon as we hit the ground. Totally embarrassing, but at that point I really didn’t care because the Sky Dive was just amazing!
I do remember asking, whilst lying on the floor and trying not to vomit, whether I still looked good on camera. Lucy politely informed me that they had switched the camera off 15 minutes earlier :-D.
After about 15 minutes of lying on the floor, I managed to stand up and said that I wanted to leap up and down and say how amazing it was, but both Lee and Lucy immediately said “NO!” so I walked sedately back to the bus and was told to sit in the front so I could be sick out of the window if needed. They were a bit worried that I was still quite white but I was feeling loads better at this point.
It probably didn’t help that everyone that I jumped with was at least half my age :-D.
Afterwards, I treated myself to a bacon sandwich as I hadn’t had any breakfast that morning. (In hindsight I probably would have felt better on the parachute jump if I had eaten something that morning.)
Anyway, I did it!!!!! It was AMAZING and if I could Sky Dive without the parachute jump, I would do it every day. It all feels like a dream. I know it happened, but it was sooooo fast. I’m glad I got the video so I can watch it again if I want too.
I then had to leg it back home and pack and drive to Dorchester for a friends wedding, so there was no time to really absorb the experience.
Nearly a week later, it’s still feeling a bit surreal.
I’m so glad I did it though and I’ve raised nearly £1000 for Sebastian’s Action Trust which I’m sooo pleased about as this money will go to helping lots of families who really need the support that Sebastian’s Action Trust provide.
Rating out of 5
500 out of 5 for the Sky Dive. -500 for the Parachute jump!
Amazing experience and I proved something to myself on Friday.
I jumped 15,000 feet this morning and it was PHENOMENALLY AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!
The video will follow on Monday :-D.
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I’ve driven past the Bluebells many times as we have friends who live in North Waltham. I always thought it looked like a posh nursing home. It was only when I visited on a works volunteer day, that I discovered exactly what the Bluebells is.
I can’t really explain how much my visit to Bluebells impacted me. It’s an incredibly moving but inspiring place and right on our doorstep.
Next summer I would like to do something to help raise funds for this fantastic place, via NHM. If you are interested in helping with this, please let me know.
Sebastian’s Action Trust
I am Jane Gates, a 50 year old mother of two from Binfield in Berkshire.
In 2003 my brave nine-year old son, who at the time was battling a rare form of cancer, inspired my husband Michael and I, together with our daughter Rebecca, to set up the charity, Sebastian’s Action Trust.
Our tireless work was recognised in 2012 when along with Michael I accepted the prestigious Pride of Britain Award on behalf of The Trust for our work and its impact.
Sadly my son, Sebastian lost his battle on the 24th of December 2003 but his vision, spirit and drive lives on through our work.
Today The Trust stands proud and is a tribute to Sebastian’s insight, bravery and vision. His aim was to provide a place where life-limited children and their families can holiday together away from the rigours of hospital appointments, gruelling treatment schedules and prying eyes. Importantly for very sick children the home needed to be clean, safe and adaptable to meet their often complex physical and emotional needs. Sebastian’s vision was simple, yet vital for those facing the loss of a beloved child; he wanted to create a private place where memories could be made which would last a life-time, even if that life was to be cruelly cut short.
In 2011 Sebastian’s vision was finally realised and The Bluebells, the UK’s first purpose built respite holiday home was completed. The Bluebells is located in the beautiful village Hampshire village of North Waltham.
It consists of:
two four-bedroom self-catering apartments, each with a lounge and kitchen diner which can support families using wheelchairs and specialist medical equipment
an indoor pool with spa with disabled access. We hold a range of specialist dry suits so that children who have feeding tubes can still access the pool.
an indoor games area with a wide selection of computer games, traditional board games and toys
a home cinema
a multi-sensory room
a music room
an art room
a therapies room
an outdoor adventure play area
a nine-hole mini golf course &a secret meadow.
Since opening in July 2011 The Bluebells has given over 200 families the opportunity to spend precious time together, safe in the knowledge that the home is close to the hospital and that trained live-in staff are on hand to provide help and support should this be needed.
Our work now extends further into emotional and practical support for families during the darkest days of their lives. This work is delivered by trained Outreach Workers who work with families to ascertain their needs and to deliver bespoke support aimed at easing their suffering and isolation. Our work is primarily focused across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire Surrey and Hampshire. We do however also support families from further afield to come to The Bluebells because there is simply no other project of its kind in the UK.