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#30before30 items 17 and 22: jump out of a plane and raise £1k for charity

Number 22 was hands-down the scariest item on my list. I am terrified of heights, I hate planes and I can’t stand the feeling of falling. But the whole point of this list was to challenge myself to do something outside my comfort zone – and this was on another continent.

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I decided to skydive in memory of my baby brother Charles, who I don’t talk about much because I get really upset. He died at five months old. He was perfect in the womb – a healthy, beautiful little boy. But as he was being born, the placenta came away and he was left without oxygen for twenty minutes. By the time he came into the world, he had severe brain damage. He was blind and deaf, unable to suck or swallow – we had to put a suction tube into his throat every time he needed to cough, and he hated it. He’d jump a mile every time we touched him, because he had no way of knowing we were coming.

It wasn’t a happy five months for him. Our hearts broke knowing there was nothing we could do to help, and we found out after he died that he’d had a broken collarbone, too. No one told us, and we’d been picking him up to cuddle him. He couldn’t let us know that it hurt.

The one thing that made our five months at the hospital much more bearable was the nurses. They were absolutely brilliant. At Christmas, they gave Charles his own little stocking in his cot, even though he couldn’t see it. As it turned out, it was the only Christmas we had with him.

The donations for my skydive are going to Bliss, the charity for premature and terminally-ill babies, who help babies like Charles and families like ours.

I’m not going to post a photo of Charles because of trolls. But I’m so proud to say that I absolutely smashed my fears and jumped the hell out of that plane for my baby brother. Here’s the video:

As you can probably tell, I did not enjoy it one bit. Everyone said I’d love it, that the adrenaline would kick in and I’d have the best time and want to go straight back up.

In a word?

Nope.

This is an actual still of my face during the dive:

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Just about sums it up.

So I did it. I made it out of the plane. But did I raise the £1000?

Did. I. Ever.

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I can’t thank everyone enough for their incredibly generous donations. Extra-special thanks go to Paul C, Trevor B and Mark H. Together, we raised four times the target – and helped a lot of unwell babies like my brother.

This item on the list might be my favourite. I learnt that when I hold a loved one in my heart, I can do anything. I can face my worst fears, take a deep breath and jump out of the plane anyway.

This one was for you, Charles. Love you forever.

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