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Skydivers take the plunge for NHS charity

23 May 2022 12:54:19
skydive team

A team of daredevil fundraisers will be taking to the skies to raise funds for the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity.

The charity will take a team of seven to new heights during its first official aerial challenge at Skydive Hibaldstow in North Lincolnshire on Friday 17 June 2022.

The team currently includes a Healthcare Support Worker, a consultant, a Service Support Worker for the Medicine Division, a midwife, a Data Quality Officer, an Orthoptic Services Manager and one member of the public. The divers, aged 41 to 65, have raised £3,169 so far. 

Jane Bowler, a Healthcare Support Worker on Ward A5, is taking part in the skydive in memory of her sister Joanne, who sadly passed away from pneumonia in 2019, aged 52. Joanne, who suffered from muscular atrophy, was cared for in the charity-funded Purple Butterfly room on the Fitzwilliam ward.

Jane, 54, from Herringthorpe, said: “The Purple Butterfly rooms at Rotherham Hospital are absolutely wonderful and I can’t thank my colleagues enough for giving my family the opportunity to spend time with Joanne in such a lovely, peaceful place.

"Sharing the space allowed us to spend time with Joanne when it really mattered the most, to say goodbye and it allowed her to go with dignity. You can’t get that precious time back.

“I’m doing the skydive for Joanne and to raise funds for the charity because the Purple Butterfly Appeal is so close to my heart after what we’ve been through. I always used to say to Joanne I wanted to do a skydive, so when I saw this opportunity it was like she was telling me to do it. Joanne would think I’m crazy but she’d be the first to sponsor me.

“I’ve never met anyone as brave as Joanne and her memory is spurring me on. The higher we get in that plane, the closer I’ll feel to her. I have no doubt she will be with me in spirit pushing me out the door! I’m an adrenalin junkie, so I’m really looking forward to it, although I’m sure I’ll be very nervous on the day.”

Angela Trezise, 50, and her husband Pete, 56, are taking part in the skydive to mark Angela’s milestone birthday.

Angela, a Data Quality Officer in Patient Access, said: “We are skydiving for the charity because we want to do something amazing together and to make 2022 really count! I celebrated my 50th birthday this year and I want to do an exciting challenge to mark the milestone. I'm also scared of heights, so I really wanted to conquer my fear. My husband Pete is a thrill-seeker and has always wanted to do a skydive.”

Midwife Sarah Neal has signed up to the challenge and has been inspired to lose weight for the event too

The 41-year-old, of Killamarsh, said: “I’m always up for a challenge, especially in aid of a great cause. Following on from my Captain Tom 100 Challenge last year, this year’s challenge needed to be bigger and better! So this one is twofold for me. I hope to raise £500 by throwing myself out of a plane and because there is a weight limit, I’m on a weight loss challenge too. I’m half way to reaching both my targets already.

“I’ve asked my colleagues to eat all the biscuits on the ward as well as to sponsor me and they have been amazingly supportive. I want to do this for the charity because I see the difference they make every day and I want to help them to continue that work for everyone who needs it.”

Ophthalmology Consultant Mohamad Jabir, 65, of Fulwood in Sheffield, says his family is looking forward to watching his skydive.

“I do a lot of charity work at home, such as donating to food banks, supporting St Luke’s hospice and the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital. I’m a Mercy Ship ophthalmic surgeon volunteer too. But this is my opportunity to support the NHS charity where I work. I’ve worked for the NHS in Rotherham for 23 years and I’m proud of my hospital,” he said.

“Two of my daughters will be coming to watch me skydive, which I’m looking forward to. I have an adventurous spirit and feel excited about doing something different. I’ve fallen from a high ladder before, but never an aeroplane!

Mr Jabir’s colleague Caroline Pollard, Orthoptic Services Manager, has also worked at the Trust for 22 years and is looking forward to ticking a skydive off her bucket list.

The 53-year-old said: “I have worked at Rotherham Hospital ever since I qualified and I’m dedicated to doing what I can to support our NHS charity and to keep it going strong for future generations. My four children think I’m insane to be jumping out of a plane but they always support me in my quirky endeavours.

“They haven’t been surprised with anything I do since they heard I was taking up playing the bagpipes, though a skydive is marginally more dangerous.  It’s the first time I will have done something like this but it’s on my bucket list, so I’m excited.”

The final skydiver is Tom McCann, a Service Support Manager – Medicine. The 31-year-old, added: “I'm really excited about the event because I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie. It's so nice to see everyone coming together to support the charity and I hope people will sponsor me so I can reach my £400 target.”

Taking part in a charity skydive will allow those with a head for heights to experience the thrill of freefalling from 15,000ft, while also raising funds for the charity.

Tandem skydiving is one of the easiest and most popular skydives – perfect for divers who have never done it before. Participants simply need a 20-minute training session before they jump strapped to a British Parachute Association qualified instructor. They will do all the hard work for you, allowing you to enjoy the thrill of flying through the clouds with the hum of the plane engine in your ears!

Skydivers can secure their place with a £60 deposit and will be required to raise a minimum of £400.

The Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity raises funds to provide the extra special resources, equipment and projects which the NHS would ordinarily not be able to afford. Funds have recently been invested in autism and learning disability friendly sensory boxes, a portable hand held ultrasound machine, picnic benches for staff break-out areas, TVs and entertainers for the Children’s Ward and a memory tree for the Snowdrop memorial garden.

Rachael Dawes, Head of Fundraising at the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity, said: “We are delighted to have seven amazing fundraisers signed up to our first ever group skydive. The excitement and nerves are brewing but all seven have their friends, family and colleagues rallying around to support them every step of the way.

“We have three places left and would love to see members of the public join our Trust colleagues in the challenge of a lifetime. If you have a head for heights and would like to tick a skydive off your bucket list, then this is the event for you.

“All the funds raised will make a massive difference to your local NHS charity, allowing us to fund more of the added extras which really make a difference to our patients and their families.”

For more information about the event and to register visit: https://www.therotherhamft.nhs.uk/Fundraising/Skydive_2022/

If you need a little more convincing to jump out of a plane to raise money for the charity, or have any questions, please get in touch via 01709 426821 or trft.charity@nhs.net.

 Photo: Sarah Neal, Angela Trezise, Mohamad Jabir and Jane Bowler.