Posts Tagged ‘ Wood Green Animal Shelter ’

Freefalling for animals like Floyd

Yesterday began with my alarm telling me it was 05:45am. I’d been dreaming about what was going to happen over the previous few days, and had got myself believing that this could well be my last day on this Earth. I gave the other half a nudge and got up.  It was still dark and a little bit foggy, but I knew it was going to be a scorcher.

Today I was doing a tandem parachute jump for Wood Green Animal Shelters. And I was nervous!

The trip didn’t get off to a good start. We hadn’t even reached the car when my mum spotted something in the middle of our road; a hedgehog. “Ah!” I thought. That was our ‘resident’ hog, for whom I always kept an eye out when I came home from work of an evening. I trotted up to him, expecting him to curl up in fright. Unfortunately, his back legs were sprawled and he was very still. Ben gave me a towel and I picked him up. He had no visible injuries but was definitely not alive, so I placed him (and his many parasitic friends) in the bushes. What a shame.

After laying Mr. Hog to rest we got into the car and headed off. Today was a pigeon suicide mission, but thankfully they didn’t catch us out. It was a good journey, and we found Sibson airfield very easily. But, once again Man had caused another death. A few hundred feet from the airfield turning lay a very large, grey lump in the road. Smack bang in the middle of the lane. We immediately knew that it was a badger. Ben stopped the car and mum and me got out. He certainly was a big chap and it took both of us to move him onto the verge. His injuries suggested he’d been clipped on his face, but he couldn’t have been there for long as rigor-mortis hadn’t set in yet. Poor chap.

On we went down to the airfield. I felt slightly less nervous as the badger had taken my mind off things for a few minutes. I signed in and paid up at the registration centre and waited in the cafe. We met two other ladies who were jumping for Wood Green and that made me feel a bit better. Then, over the tannoy, a call for tandem jumpers went out. That was us, and we headed over to a small hut where we were briefed about how to jump out of a plane… GULP.

My name was called and a friendly looking chap said he was going to be with me. I got into a jump-suit and he then proceeded to strap me into some contraption that would keep him and I together. It was very tight around the crotch and I was glad that I was a female! Ben had paid for my jump to be filmed / photographed and so I now felt like a very silly looking and frightened celebrity as he followed me around the airfield.

We all walked out onto the grass and waited for the plane to land. It came down quickly and I awkwardly made my way up a silly little ladder whilst being almost blown away. I got in and straddled a bench in front of my instructor who made sure we were attached to each other and the plane began to take off. I’d forgotten how much i don’t like taking off, especially in some rickety old plane where there’s no seats. We turned, and as we turned so did my stomach…

Reaching about 11,000 feet I was told to sit on my instructor’s lap (!) and things got a little bit tighter. The first couple slid to the edge of the open door and as they disappeared the plane gave a little jolt from the weight difference. The next couple went and before I knew it, there I was looking down into nothing but fresh air.

I don’t remember falling out of the plane, I just remember screaming like I have NEVER screamed before. I actually thought I was about to die. So after I stopped screaming I thought I’d better start breathing. I started taking a breath through my mouth, only to find the G-force on my cheeks was making it very difficult to keep my mouth open. So I breathed through my nose. The wind was so loud and I was moving at such an incredible pace. Apparently my instructor was trying to get me to look at the cameraman, but in fact, I don’t even remember seeing him!

Hearing something deploy, I felt my body being jolted up – of course it was the parachute slowing us down from 120mph to something a bit slower. I think I remember thanking my instructor for not letting me die… We made a slower, but twisty descent; every time he turned us around I felt like we on a rollercoaster and feared I was going to vomit on some poor passer-by.

It was a beautiful view as we made our way down, and didn’t seem real. The tiny churches and trains seemed within arm’s reach and it was a very bizarre feeling to see so much with nothing to block the view.

We came in to land and slid along the ground on our bottoms. I laid for a minute feeling the lovely safe ground and was very glad that I was still alive! My cameraman came back again and asked me some ridiculous questions and probably took some ridiculous photographs. I made my way to my mum and Ben who were also taking ridiculous photos and proceeded to tell me I looked ‘very pale, paler than usual!’ Well, I’m sure you know what my answer to that was.

So, I did it.  It was both completely terrifying and exhilarating and the same time. But I don’t think I’ll be doing it again in a hurry. I might one day, but for now I’m happiest on the ground.

Why did I do it?

I did it for Wood Green Animal Shelters who had asked for brave people to take up the offer of a sponsored skydive. They give unwanted and neglected animals a second chance at happiness. If you read my blog you’ll have seen I mentioned Floyd the Old English Sheepdog who had been terribly neglected. Wood Green wanted to rehabilitate Floyd and managed to raise over £7,000 to care for him. Unfortunately his neglect had caused him so many problems in the end it was kinder to put him to sleep.

I wanted to raise a bit of cash so that animals like him can get the care, love and attention they deserve. I made just over £500 and although it’s not as much as the Floyd fund I’m sure it’ll go some way to helping at least one animal out of suffering. 🙂

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