Smashing barriers: Catherine's 13,000 feet sky dive

For most people, the idea of jumping from a perfectly functional aeroplane isn’t what you’d call their first choice of fun.

Catherine, someone that lives at Livability’s John Grooms court might well disagree.

32 years old, Catherine was born with cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. Having lived at John Grooms Court for 12 years, she decided to raise money for the service and eventually decided that a skydive would be her biggest challenge.

As Susan Hampson, who works at Livability John Groom’s court said, “When our residents say they want to do something – we don’t just break a barrier down – we totally smash it!”

I felt as free as a bird

Whilst the concept of someone who can’t walk adopting skydiving as a hobby might seem crazy, it’s actually a trend all over the world.

To overcome some of the practical problems, Catherine and staff at Livability John Grooms Court worked with the UK Parachuting Association based in Beccles. Their Head Instructor carried out a full assessment and helped include Catherine’s physical abilities into a tandem skydive, to maximise her involvement. With their blessing, Catherine had a green light and immediately set up a Just Giving sponsorship form.

Catherine has excelled in persuading people to sponsor her. Nobody escaped!

On 14th July, Catherine and a band of supporters went to Beccles airfield. With Catherine harnessed up and properly assessed to ensure she could maintain the correct position, she was off, with her instructor Rich Parker and six other tandem skydivers.

Catherine was the last to jump at an altitude of 13,000 feet (4000 metres). She was in free fall for 20 seconds before the parachute deployed and landed gracefully ten minutes later. The club organised for four catchers on the ground to ensure she touched down safely.

Afterwards, Catherine said “Jumping from the plane was ok – but being in free fall was very scary. It was amazing being so high up and seeing all the houses and buildings looking so small. I felt as free as a bird and it made me feel like I was not disabled for a while. Even getting in the jumpsuit and harness was challenge that took three people. It was a once in a lifetime experience – but I thinking of doing it again!”

We are astonishingly proud of Catherine, who has raised in excess of £500 – but more importantly has smashed through another barrier and challenge. An amazing achievement.