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Taking a leap

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Last year, 64 daring MS Trust supporters took a leap of faith and jumped out of a plane with a parachute, raising over £44,000 to help others affected by MS. Adventure lover Sarah Harper explains why she wanted to take part in a sponsored skydive.

I was diagnosed with MS back in 2011 and at the time I was sure that I was facing nothing positive and that all my adventures and outdoor sports were surely going to have to stop. This was a massive blow to me. As someone who grew up in the Lake District, outdoor adventures were part and parcel of my daily life and the idea that I might be limited in doing these was devastating.

As time passed, I adjusted to my diagnosis and, in between having two children, I realised that my active life didn’t have to stop. I just needed to slow down a bit, ensure good rest, eat well and pace myself. Since being diagnosed I have increased my physical activity and meeting my physio recently, she was amazed when I listed all the activities I do.

Taking to the skies

I realised that something was missing though and that was doing a skydive. It was on my list of things to do before I’m 40. My friend Sarah is a keen climber and netballer and when this topic came up we discovered we both wanted to do it. We were nervous but spurred each other on.

I’d seen that the MS Trust were keen to have fundraisers so we volunteered and set up an online fundraising page. We had raised over £1,500 between us before jumping and when the day came we were terrified but determined to do it. Our first and second attempts were hampered by bad weather and we began to think we would never do it, but our third attempt fell on a gloriously calm day and we realised this was it!

“Don’t let MS hold you back, do what you can but most of all enjoy life. MS might affect us in different ways but life is still there to be lived!”

All went well on the day and I was relieved to be attached to the most senior skydiver when the time came to get in the plane. Sarah went first and it was terrifying to watch as she fell out of the plane attached to her instructor. Then my turn came and my heart was in my mouth as we balanced on the edge of the plane about to jump. I looked out at the clouds as we shuffled to the edge of the plane and then he counted and suddenly we were falling. Trying hard to remember everything I’d been told in pre-jump training, I felt myself dropping through the sky.

An amazing experience

The photographer was then in front of me and I managed a smile and thumbs up. Apart from my (slightly weaker) left leg not being quite in the right position, it was an amazing experience! Then the parachute opened and I was gently floating to the ground. I was so overcome with emotion I couldn’t stop laughing and crying at the same time, it was fantastic! When we landed, Sarah and I hugged and celebrated our achievement together knowing that we had raised money for the MS Trust.

To anyone out there contemplating it, I’d say don’t let MS hold you back, do what you can but most of all enjoy life. MS might affect us in different ways but life is still there to be lived! Get out there and do it!

Want to give skydiving a go?

You can take part in a tandem skydive for the MS Trust at one of 20 participating airfields across England, Wales and Scotland. Book your jump during June and be part of our ‘Jump in June’ campaign, raising vital funds and awareness. If you can’t take part during June, you can book a tandem skydive for another day that suits you. Airfields are open most weekends and some are also open during the week.

No experience is required as all training is given on the day and if you raise the minimum sponsorship of £395, this will cover your skydive costs too. You’ll jump from at least 10,000ft, harnessed to an instructor who will control the parachute and the landing. Some airfields are better able to accommodate the needs of people with limited mobility than others, please give us a call to find out more. Find more information about skydiving for the MS Trust, or call 01462 476707.

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