How about Skydiving for charity?

In 2015, after rehoming a cat from the branch, intrepid Katherine Sargeant decided to undertake a sponsored Skydive on our behalf.  After successfully completing her jump, Katherine has raised over £1100.00 for the branch, and we are extremely grateful for her efforts!

If you're interested in doing something like this on our behalf, then read all about Katherine's adventure ...

On Monday 22nd June I had a moment of madness and believed I was capable of a tandem skydive.   The night before I had spotted a link from Facebook through to Cats Protection’s fundraising challenges, and a seed was planted in my mind: could I do something to help support the fantastic team at the Bracknell & Wokingham Branch who had introduced us to Gracie last October?  Monday came and I made some enquiries, hesitated for around 2 hours and then “bang”, I couldn’t help myself, the challenge was irresistible, I paid the deposit and somehow I was committed.

I should point out that other than my teenage son and our CP cat, Gracie, I have one other passion in my life: running.  If it took me a matter of hours to sign up to the jump, I had many more to consider the consequences of something going wrong and never running again.  The thought of a life without my running friends, marathons and half marathons was a real concern.  But if you’re asking people to part with their hard earned cash to support you, it has to be a true challenge and, being petrified of heights as well, this couldn’t have been a truer one. 

What I had also initially failed to consider was that skydives don’t always happen when they’re planned.  The scheduled date for the dive, 19th August, dawned and I arrived at the Old Sarum airfield to report to the Red Devils and undertake my jump.  I was a total bag of nerves.  The sun was shining and we were told we’d get briefed quickly and get set to jump, as the weather was due to turn by lunchtime.  My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach as I looked at the plane and comprehended what I was about to do.  Then the first plane load of “jumpers” flew off …. Only to return a short while later as the cloud had become so thick it was impossible to jump.  Shortly after we were all sent home, having re-booked for 15th September.  I was a mixture of relief and disappointment.  So home I went for a run in the now pouring rain, just to get rid of the angst and adrenaline coursing through me.

15th September was written off before it even started.  We were having several days of cloud and rain.  “Phew, I can breathe again!”  And run a marathon in Nottingham on the 27th.  Excellent!

So, 8th October was the next date set and, as I subsequently learned, the final day of skydiving at Old Sarum for 2015.  The weather had been beautiful for 2 weeks, and some of the CP “jumpers” had done their jumps because they had re-booked for 24th September and I was pretty jealous of their achievements when I saw their pictures on Facebook.  But then some awful weather arrived on Monday 5th October.  Believe me, I had been watching the forecasts like a hawk, but tentatively it seemed like the downpours and cloud would lift by Thursday.  And they did, a beautiful day and I realised this was it: no more hoping, wondering, fearing, postponing or talking about jumping.

I have to say, an amazing calm came over me as I drove to Salisbury.  As with my running, I knew that if I concentrated on the training and kept my composure that all would be fine and I would achieve one of the most brilliant dreams of my life.  I arrived first, very early as I was determined that if anyone was jumping it was going to be me!! And so it was: first plane-load up and first out of the hatch.  And it is a hatch,  a rickety hatch which is lifted at 13,000 feet (it takes around 10 minutes to fly that high) and my instructor, Nathan, who was clipped to me by 4 hooks shuffled me to the opening, dangled me out and then out we dropped into this amazing rush of wind, moisture and frantic noise, with blue sky above and grey cloud below.  It was the most awesome place to be – a bubble in which there was me, Nathan and Alex who was filming and taking photos.  These guys are seriously amazing men!


  The 45 second freefall was the bit that had freaked me out over-and-
  over in the many weeks of the summer.  45 seconds is a LONG time to
  be plummeting, I had thought.  In the end it was, for me, probably the
  most fantastic bit – just because it was like we were in a little cocoon
  way up above the world.

Then WHOOSH, the parachute is opened and I’m drawn back upwards and I’m thinking “no, I need to go down!!”  We’re sailing over fields, with tiny roads and trees, looking at miniscule lorries and cars – and Nathan says “look, there’s the Isle of Wight”.   “Oh yeah, ok!”  And I politely decline the offer of steering the parachute, reminding him that my simple request had been “get me down safely and to my New York marathon in 3 weeks time!”  He was funny, we had a funny old chat up there.

I did take a moment to look at the scene beneath me and remember all the pussy-cats, thinking that trying to help them had brought me to this amazing place and moment in my life.

Another weird bit was the approach back down to earth as you have no concept of the height: “are we close or not?”  It’s very deceptive.  And the reason it’s so important is that you have to lift your legs up as high as you can for landing, it’s the most crucial part of the jump as, we were informed, a 15 stone man landing on top of you can cause you a lot of bother!

Anyway, I did it, I landed safely on my bottom, sliding along on the mud, laughing my head off whilst simultaneously thanking Nathan for the most fantastic experience, and delivering me back to earth without a bump and onwards to New York.

Seriously, I cannot recommend this experience enough.  If you would like to get out of your comfort zone and raise some money for the CP cats GO AND DO IT!!  Alternatively, if it’s not for you, please sponsor me; it was a BIG deal but it was the BEST deal I ever signed up to.

Katherine Sargeant.