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Jump For Marley

‘Fear – an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.’

So jumping out of a plane pretty much summarized that definition in my mind. We are confronted with fear every day. Marley faces fear head on day in and day out. Needles, pain, disappointment... But he never lets it show. Which is why when Jump for Marley was suggested I couldn’t let him down and had to do this! Mummy needed to represent just a tiny piece of the strength he encompasses.

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Skydiving is such an interesting confront with fear. It’s never something I ever had an urge to do or be a part of. I’m not an adrenaline junkie and my most adventurous pass time is using a fancy bookmark or managing a tricky corkscrew!

A good friend of mine wanted to try and help Marley in some way so she persuaded her lovely husband Grahame to agree to a sponsored skydive. He was booked to do it in March with his two children from England but it got cancelled because of the weather conditions. Even though they’d flown out to Portugal to do the jump...

Once it got cancelled the first time I wrote to SkyDive Algarve to see if there was anything they could do to help make Jump for Marley bigger and better. And they really did! They responded quickly apologizing for the weather before (which wasn’t their fault!) and wanting to help with fundraising for Marley. So they offered us great jump deals to encourage more people to Jump for Marley and I got roped into jumping too! One of my lovely students Daniella decided to jump, an amazing gesture of support for our cause and proving she was far braver than her teacher.

If your shoot doesn't open...

I kept imagining it in my mind over and over again. I couldn’t understand why I would even do that. But once the publicity had gone out there was no going back... It seemed like ages away and then D Day arrived. I waited all day in the ‘hanger’ and yet again the jump was cancelled due to it being too overcast. I can’t say I was too unhappy about it, just gave me more time to wind myself up more and find an adult nappy to fit!

The week in Lisbon passed slowly and the jump still didn’t feel very real. With it being cancelled twice I just couldn’t really believe it. The night before I woke up nervous and my tummy was all over the place. As I walked out the house and left everyone asleep on the Sunday morning I knew it was going to happen that day, I just had a feeling.

As we sat in the waiting room and got out safety briefing the camera woman came round and I don’t think I’ve ever put on such a fake smile in my life... please refer to the video link for a good laugh. Plus we found out because the weather was so much better we were jumping from even higher – we were meant to be enthralled by the news?! So we would be jumping from 15,000 feet. Because that is a normal Sunday morning pass time. There was a part of the video which said if the shoot doesn’t open... Why the hell wouldn’t the shoot open?

Super unflattering!

So we put on our suits which were most unflattering I must say and walked to the plane. We would be jumping by ourselves and I had been picked to go first. As a sign of bravery or they could tell I was the biggest wimp I’m not 100% certain. Not to mention I’m sat on the instructor’s lap, if things weren’t awkward enough on the plane. The instructor, Patrick, was fantastic. He made small talk a breeze and put me at ease. He leant over and said ‘don’t worry I also have a daughter’. It was in that moment I knew I was in safe hands. He had a baby to get home to also.

The view as we soared into the clouds was beautiful. The lush green coming from our farm – we actually used to have skydivers land accidentally in the fields. The beach, Alvor coastline... The clear blue waves and the soft cotton like clouds looking so peaceful out of the little jet windows. Then suddenly reality struck...

Once we were up there they opened the plane door. It suddenly dawned on me... I had never been on a plane with the door open before! Terror! Pure terror as the experienced jumpers left the plane one by one falling into the clouds not before giving me cheeky smiles that said ‘you are so screwed.’ That morning I had passed a group of over 70s planning their jump formation in the hanger which made me remember people must do this for a reason...

We began to scoot down the plane track and goodness knows how much force the instructor had to use to get me to move because it wasn’t easy to approach that open door. My feet were hanging out of the aeroplane and I don’t know what my mind was thinking. Ultimately I was looking out at death.

I didn’t hear them count. Apparently they normally say one... two... But jump on two as people try and stop themselves on three.

As we fell out of the plane, in one second I realized it was the most blissful experience of my whole life. Falling through the air and feeling such peace. I wish that feeling in my whole being for Marley.

I suddenly had zero fear. I realized at the point of maximum danger was the point of minimum fear. I realized all that fear I had in the morning, the build up, it all meant nothing. Everything up to the moment of stepping out of that plane meant nothing. At that moment it really did hit me, God placed the best things in life on the other side of fear. I pray every day that Marley will come out the other side of this battle and I do know for sure that he is the strongest child I’ve ever met. His take on fear is what I turn to on a daily basis, taking inspiration on how such a small innocent mind doesn’t tremble... ever.

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See who is there when you fall... literally

Both Grahame and Daniella jumped fearlessly and loved the experience. It was such a great feeling being surrounded by the both of them showing such courage and wanting to make my boy proud too. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart. In times like this you really see who is there when you fall – literally!

Together we raised 1550 Euros for Marley which is just an incredible result and amazing to be one step closer to the medical procedures Marley needs. Thank you to SkyDive Algarve in helping us not only fundraise but raise awareness for Jump for Marley. Everyone involved really was amazing and a great credit to the cause.

A fantastic outcome, an amazing experience and such wonderful friends and supporters Marley and myself have. Jump for Marley – a flying success!

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