Skydiving Surrey pair challenge disability stereotypes
24 April 2017
James from Godalming had always dreamed of skydiving, while Barbara from Haslemere wanted to push her boundaries.
The duo, who both use the Hydon Hill care facilities run by Leonard Cheshire Disability in Godalming, finally saw their dreams come true at the iFly indoor skydiving centre in Basingstoke at the end of last month.
51-year-old James, who has attended Hydon Hill day centre since 2012, has multiple sclerosis, which can mean he has difficulties standing.
Determined to skydive, the ex-IT systems engineer set the ball rolling by asking Leonard Cheshire carers if he could do an outdoor skydive last summer. However, James and the carers unfortunately discovered his disability meant he was unable to take part.
Hydon Hill staff and volunteers took the plunge on James’s behalf last September, raising over £4,000 to go towards creating an accessible outdoor space at the service. They also began supporting James to find an indoor skydive challenge for himself.
After finally taking to the air, James said:
‘It was absolutely fabulous. I cannot wait to do it again!’
James’s fellow skydiver, Barbara, had not taken part in the original sky dive, but was looking for a new challenge. 60 year old Barbara used to work in a nursery, but was involved in a car accident which saw her lose a leg in March 2016.
She has been attending Hydon Hill Day Centre five days a week since last September.
After the indoor skydive, Barbara said:
‘The experience was mind-blowing! I never thought I would be able to do something like this, especially after losing my leg a year ago.
‘I feel the experience has changed me; I feel different. I can start living again and accept my disability.’
Hydon Hill activities coordinator Jonathan Lelacheur said:
‘We are so proud of James and Barbara for completing the challenge.
‘It is always a wonderful feeling knowing we have the ability to change people’s lives and make them better.
‘Disability is not the end of life, life just changes and activities like the indoor skydive show people can do anything with the right support.
‘We would like to thank all those who support us with fundraising, as the money allows us to set up things like this to make peoples dreams come true.’
Barbara is now considering an outdoor skydive and James is already getting ready to book his next indoor adventure with his family.
If you would like to find out more about supporting disabled people in Surrey to fulfil their dreams, please email Jonathan or call 01483 860 516.
For further media enquiries please email Claire Farrell. Out of hours: 07903 949 388. General press office: 020 3242 0399.