Going to University is all about trying new things; many people try out new sports or find their voice within ACapella. But nothing could have prepared my parents for what I was getting up to.
I had signed up spontaneously to do a 15,000FT skydive as part of Leeds RAG (Raising and Giving Society).
Whilst I am not the most outgoing of people, I have always wanted to do a skydive at some point in my life, just to tick it off my bucket list.
And doing it for charity was surely a good enough reason, wasn’t it?
As I have been brought up on a working farm, I have witnessed first hand the testing times farmers face, such as the Foot and Mouth epidemic back in 2001 or the recent floodings in 2015.
Moreover, as a member of Pendle YFC I am aware of the challenges upcoming farmers are facing, and wanted to do something to raise awareness for the farming industry itself.
Therefore, I chose to raise money for the welfare charity R.A.B.I (Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution) who provide financial aid, relief workers, essential household items, disability equipment and even care homes for U.K (England and Wales) farmers struggling to make ends meet.
Following my decision, I got in touch with the charity over email to let them know about my crazy fundraising effort and they were incredibly supportive, sending me a t-shirt and card wishing me luck with my jump.
Originally I aimed to raise £200 for the charity. I did this by constantly promoting my fundraising link on social media. My persistence certainly paid over, as I managed to raise £551 – before even jumping out of the plane!
The original jump date was set for 20th February 2016 and we all set off from the Parkinson Building in Leeds to arrive at Hibaldstow Skydive Centre for 10am; the stated time of our briefing.
Yet the weather was set against us, with gale force winds making it unsafe for the jump to go ahead.
Whilst I was a little bit disappointed, I was rather relieved, thinking that maybe I would not have to jump out of the plane after all.
But part of me was determined to carry out the skydive, and despite another cancellation (this time due to cloud!) which was incredibly frustrating, I finally got the go ahead on the 25th March.
Before I was allowed anywhere near the plane, I had to sit through a 20-minute briefing from one of the experienced skydivers at the center.
He talked all of us through the harness, highlighting where the main parachute was for instance. He also demonstrated the jumping and landing pose for us, then got us to practice them in front of him to make sure we were able to adopt the correct positions with ease.
After what felt like signing my life away on a sheet which stated my responsibility should the dive go wrong, I was then shown an adrenaline skydive promotional video. I left the briefing super excited, ready to throw myself out of the plane.
But I had to wait. For another 3 hours!
Finally, around 4:20pm I was summoned to the rigging up room. Everything occurred so quickly in the room, pulling on overalls (as a farmer I have mastered this art), attaching the headwear, and then greeting my instructor, who squeezed the life out of me whilst tightening my harness.
Once ready, I was told to wait in the drop zone area for the minibus that was going to take me to the plane.
But typical me, I almost missed the bus!
I quickly jumped on, just as my instructor was beginning to worry he had left me behind. The bus ride felt like forever and it was at this point the experience felt real; this wasn’t a drill, I was actually going to jump out of a plane today!
The plane itself was tiny, and I was the first in, meaning I was going to be the last out. There was 8 of us crammed into a tiny propeller plane as well as the driver. Space was certainly tight.
As the plane climbs, I stare out of the window, thinking surely this is high enough. But it keeps on going.
With my instructor already having done 4,200 jumps in his lifetime, I felt rather safe, and his smile gave me confidence that I was going to be fine, destroying any nerves that had been brewing.
I look at the altometre, we are at 15,000FT and the door opens.
Blimey, it is cold!
I watch the others vanish into thin air without a care in the world, wondering how they can be so calm.
Then it’s my turn. I edge towards the door, and adopt the position. It’s all very intense and the force of the wind pushing up at you is so strong.
You can’t hear anything, as it’s so loud, yet at the same time utterly peaceful and serene. It sounds so cliché but time simply froze, then without warning, we jumped.
It’s hard to describe what free falling feels like but personally I found it pretty horrendous.
I’m completely aware that I am falling towards the ground at a hundred and something miles per hour and the wind is so strong I can barely hold myself in the correct position. I occasionally look down but the cold air hits my goggles causing them to mist up.
I’m free falling and blind.
Moreover, I feel unattached and something slowly registers that I don’t seem to be breathing. It was at this point I realized what I had let myself in for; and I just wanted it to be over as soon as possible!
Then the parachute opens jolting me back up into the sky. I breathe a sigh of relief. I am going to be fine.
But my stomach is in knots and I feel so sick. Especially when the parachute begins swaying and turning sharply.
Despite this, the view is amazing: a patchwork of fields underneath my feet. It seems to be taking forever to reach the ground, and I can feel my blood drain from my face.
I seem to be missing this adrenaline feeling that everyone apparently gets.
Finally, we approach the landing zone and I get my legs as high as I can for the sitting landing.
The cameraman and a spare instructor run towards us in order to make the landing as smooth as possible.
Then we hit the floor. I collapse backwards onto my instructor and I can’t quite believe what I have just done.
I am in a state of disbelief and shock. After a minute or two of appreciating the ground, I am unclipped and help the instructor gather the parachute, before walking back to the rigging room ready to give the equipment back.
My hands are still shaking as I am congratulated for my dive and given a certificate and a high five.
I am then reunited with my family in the café, who grab me a brew as quick as they can in order to bring me back to life as I just sit there and ponder what I have just done.
I do not regret the skydive however, as I did it for a worthwhile cause and raised an amazing amount of money (£832!) for the charity which will hopefully improve farming families lives for the better.
However, I think the next time I am feeling charitable, I may just hold a bake sale, where my feet can be kept firmly on the ground.