One of our amazing young supporters, Anna, decided that sitting her GCSE's was just not enough excitement for her this year and thought that she would jump out of a plane to raise money for Giving Africa. She kindly shared with us her experience of skydiving as well as why she decided to raise money for Giving Africa.
Over to you Anna...
Why I decided to take on this project:
I knew that after my GCSE exams I had a long summer to enjoy. However, I’m not the type to switch off and relax the whole time so I wanted to keep myself busy. I wanted to find a way to try something new and crazy but also do it for a good cause…and skydiving for charity seemed the perfect solution.
I researched into places that would offer me this project and ‘goskydive’ was an excellent site which connected me with Giving Africa. I had heard of this charity before through school because we were studying progress in developing countries like Burkina Faso, and ‘giving africa’s’ website provided us with useful information. However, other than this I had had no other connections to this charity, but it stood out to me nonetheless.
Being a very privileged student myself, I understand the importance of a good education and its impact on the whole community. I believe that every child has the right to a thorough and accessible education, no matter their situation. For this reason I was instantly drawn to the Bethel School project that Giving Africa supports, and wanted to contribute to this in any way that I could.
I realised from the start that raising £400 wasn’t going to be an overnight success, and I’ve never really done anything quite like this before. I had to plan and organise events, manage social media to promote the project, handle the money etc., all while trying to enjoy a typical summer. With help from my family we managed to come up with events that we already enjoyed doing so it wouldn’t be a chore and really would put the ‘fun’ in fundraising.
During the month leading up to the jump we played several volleyball games with drinks and prizes and we hosted a coffee morning which included homemade cakes, a raffle, a bring-and-buy stall and handcrafted cards. We were very fortunate with the weather and all of these events turned out brilliantly with lots of people becoming very interested in the project, and helping towards the target.
I’ve always been one to enjoy a thrill; rollercoasters, rock climbing etc. but there was nothing I could have done to prepare me for falling from 15,000 ft towards the earth. Before the fated day I hadn’t actually given the skydive too much thought, as I had been so focused on the fundraising. However, when I received the email saying the weather was going to be perfect and that I was going to be on the first plane up there only excitement filled my emotions.
Both my sisters, my mum and my grandma drove up to Salisbury with me. There was a beautiful blue sky and the day ran smoothly. At no point did I feel worried as all the instructors were patient and calm – although I was slightly concerned that I was too small to reach the practise rigs without jumping!
During the plane ride up it was wonderful to look out over countryside I knew well with the growing anticipation to jump out to it. My instructor reminded me one last time of the basic instructions I needed to remember…and we were off. It’s hard to describe what freefalling at 125mph feels like other than euphoric. It feels unreal, even when the parachute opens and your heart starts to beat normally again, you really are on top of the world – literally and metaphorically. My instructor let me take control of the chute myself within the canopy and we spun around so much that my family below knew exactly which parachute I was.
Landing safely down on the ground felt good and it brought me back to reality, but the first thing I said was ‘Can I go again?’ so I can definitely say it was an incredible experience!
My whole experience in dealing with the staff at Giving Africa has been so positive and encouraging that I would love to stay in touch and promote their charity wherever possible in the future.