I had wanted to challenge myself for The Molly Watt Trust for some time.
For the 4 years since setting up I have kept busy with Keynote Presentations for the Charity raising awareness of my challenges and those of so many others deal with on a daily basis.
I tackle issues like communication, isolation, inclusion, bullying, accessibility, mobility, depression, anxiety and most importantly coping strategies.
I am not an expert but I live with and have experienced each of the above and I know awareness of need is key.
I wasn't even aware what a Skydive was until it was suggested to me and I researched it and then I was definitely up for it.
I was happy Claire wanted to do it with me.
Claire had already challenged herself for our charity doing Tough Mudder last year so my turn with the expert.
The day arrived and I was not nervous at all, just excited. It was a beautiful day with the slight risk of rain so fingers were crossed.
I was so relaxed we stopped for a bite to eat on the way to the surprise of my parents
On arriving at the airfield we were met by Claire and her family and Tina a friend I knew through Facebook came along to support us which was great.
After a short but thorough briefing we got ourselves into our suits, Claire was nervous!
I felt adrenalised and couldn't wait, I surprised myself but thought I'd be nervous once on the small aeroplane.
During the briefing we mentioned Usher Syndrome and that Claire and I would not be wearing our hearing aids, my doctor had recommended no hearing aids for the jump, so we would need an alternate way of communicating.
This was not a problem at all and a simple tapping system was suggested and what was really good was that the two guys Claire and I would jump with were really patient and keen to make sure we felt comfortable with being touched.
Just simple taps on the arms or sides and for me I was happy to have my head moved gently so I could at least try to see in the air - I would fully recommend the team at Sibson Airfield in Peterborough.
The small plane was quite noisy, Claire and I struggled to communicate with each other without our hearing aids, we made do with a little lipreading and the odd tap here and there, Claire was nervous, I had thought I'd be nervous once up in the air but I wasn't!
Even as Ralph and I wriggled on our bottoms to the opening in the plane, the door opened and I sat on the edge waiting to go, I was in awe of the sight - yes I'm blind but I could see blue, lots of blue and floaty white clouds as I scanned all around me and then I was out, WOW, I felt exhilarated and free, I knew there was a skydiver close taking pictures but as much as I scanned I couldn't see him and although I knew Claire was now behind me somewhere I couldn't see her either even though Ralph tried to point her out.
I felt free as a bird, I was 13,000 feet up and completely weightless. My daily challenges a million miles away. I wasn't going to fall over, walk into anybody, I didn't have to concentrate on listening for 7/8 minutes I didn't have a worry in the world it was just the most amazing experience.
Ralph made it fun, we flipped and somersaulted around, I loved every moment, even our landing which for me was on my bottom on top of Ralph!
Once I'd landed I looked for Claire, Ralph pointed her out and I was so happy that I got to see her perfect landing on her feet.
It was actually quite an emotional end as Claire had been so nervous but she had done it and loved it too.
Claire and I met through Usher Syndrome and though we live far apart thanks to setting up The Molly Watt Trust and social media we are friends who understand each other and it was fantastic to share this challenge with her.
I will never forget this challenge it was a truly memorable event Friday 26 June 2015 - thank you to all who believed in us and supported us.
On June 26th 2015 I embarked on a Tandem Skydive with Molly for the Molly Watt Trust.
The weeks leading up to it I tried not to think about what I had agreed to do! It was something I knew I had to do while my sight is still ‘good’, I was excited to do it but tried not to think too much about it for fear of scaring myself silly!
My parents watched videos and showed real concern for me and my safety but I assured them I would be fine!
Then the day before arrived…. I was going to jump out a plane tomorrow what on earth was I doing!
I began shaking and could feel my heart rate increase that day felt so long, I was scared could I do this would I let them down, let myself down, what about my baby girl and my family, what would they all think, was it too much, safe to say I got minimal sleep the night before!
Then the Morning arrived, I kept busy sorting my daughter and guide dog ready for the long day out I wasn’t thinking I was just mechanical getting things done, then my daughter says….Mummy why are you going to jump out of a plane?? Ok its in my mind and I’m now thinking for the best answer, I just say because mummy wants to fly and see the world from a new angle.
Really I was doing this because I wanted the challenge and the experience of a lifetime and most of all to raise money for the Trust I have close to my heart. I don’t know what my sight will be next year or in 5 years so I feel I need to do these crazy things while I can still see to create the visual memories that will last a lifetime.
Also for my daughter to see her mummy float down from the sky that’s got to be an awesome memory for her too right?
Anyway we got in the car, I picked on my hubbys driving a lot… I was venting he knew it was nerves bless him he does have to put up with me sometimes.
The journey went well until we got close then I got fidgety... we arrived, mechanics kicked in again get daughter and guide dog out the car get stuff sorted and we will go find everyone else.
Hubby then said Molly and family are arriving so we wait to greet them and then we all set off towards the skydive building where I find my Parents, my Sister and Grandma and Uncle waiting for us, safe to say I have a lot of support for the day!
Me and molly then head to the reception to check in and sign our lives away, I spot a video playing on the big screen behind the desk and its of someone doing their jump my heart skipped a beat and I felt pale, my sister spots this and is very amused!
Shortly after we went to the briefing room, I had my mother beside me and I was holding her hand, but she was shaking too! The instructor Mark introduced the equipment and the procedures we needed for the jump. He cracked a few jokes making the most of my obvious concern and fear!
Then time to get suited and harnessed up… I find out my guy is the same Mark who had done the briefing so I feel a bit better as felt I knew him a bit now, although he was a joker it helped me lighten up a little, we talked through some more about any barriers we may have due to my restricted vision and the fact I will be deaf for the duration. He was great spoke loud and clear and direct at me and kept signals in front of my face so I could see as best as possible.
We had a few photos then time to go! We walked towards the loud plane… small plane might I add, I climbed the tiny ladder into the plane and Mark climbed in behind me and clipped me to his parachute. Then the plane ran down the grass runway and up we went, the flight up took about 15 minutes but it felt so much longer, I initially felt calm looking out the window looking at the world below not really thinking just sitting, but then at 5000ft the door opened and we felt a rush of cold and wind and a guy jumped out. OMG I wasn’t ready for that he just disappeared like that gone!
That was it, nerves going into overdrive what the have I got myself into? I start shaking like a leaf I can feel my heart pounding and as we got higher I went numb my hands went like pins and needles started clapping my hands together trying to get feeling trying to get something to work to calm myself and psyche myself up for what I was about to do… jump out of this perfectly good plane!
We had already decided Molly would go first she was very up for it and showed no fear only excitement, yeah she’s nuts haha!
So we hit our height of 13000ft and we are go go go… I watch as Molly and her guy wriggle forward to the door I shout good luck but she couldn’t hear me but the meaning was there haha, us trying to communicate was very interesting in that loud plane with 2 “deafies” I think we just managed to lip-read each other!
So Molly’s at the edge and then in a second she’s gone and then my guy starts to push me forward, he said to move my legs forward to which I replied I’m numb I have no use of any of my limbs right now! So he wriggles me forward and then suddenly my feet are over the edge of this tiny plane just like I’m sat beside a lovely pool dipping my feet in but I’m not I’m 13,000ft up in the air strapped to a Stanger and a parachute about to jump, I panic and start trying to breath then I remember to look left to the camera guy and try to smile whilst bricking it inside then we lean forward and then ahhhhh we are falling head first out the plane I just see the ground and clouds above my head then we level out tummy’s to the ground and he signals to me I can put my arms out and we are freefalling through the air it felt exhilarating I feel the rush of air under me pushing me up holding me in that position I look down and see the ground coming closer and then silence as the parachute jolts us up and then I can just absorb what is happening we are now upright the parachute has worked and we are gliding down to earth I look around and take is as much as I can, I say Wow this is beautiful so peaceful and Mark said now you see why we do it, he points out a few land marks and houses with pools and we was over a large lake for quite a while I told him I don’t want to land there, he laughs the tells me to lift my hands and he takes them and lets me hold the handles to the parachute… I’m in control now awesome! He put us over some thermals I could feel it like someone had switched a hair dryer on under us, he pulls on my arm and we go into a spin and turns brilliant but then the force felt so strong to I shout stop as we do a gentle turn to the other side and it feels amazing.
Then we come close to the landing spot I hand him back the reins and he says my supporters can see us now if you want to wave, I couldn’t see but begin to wave he says to scream but I let out the lamest scream ever, I’m just to happy right now to scream, then he says to hold my legs up ready to land so I do and we come in to ground softly and on our feet…AMAZING!
Molly has already landed and comes over for a hug we both have huge grins on our faces and are both still high on adrenaline, it does take us a fair while to mentally come back down to earth after that experience.
We then greet our family’s with huge hugs and smiles and me and Molly jump into the van to take us back to base, we then return our jumpsuits and head to get our certificates. Both of us buzzing wanting to go again, never have I felt so determined that “Usher Syndrome will not stop me from living and doing!”.
We round off our day with all of us heading for something to eat, the discussions around the table were a giggle and I think both our family’s felt immensely proud and they loved hearing our stories, it must be nice for my parents to see this and for me to realise that I can do lots of things with the right attitude.
I won’t let things get in my way.
The guys at Peterborough had not supported two people with Usher Syndrome at the same time before, a first for them and us, they were great but so were Molly and me, we both struggle but we choose to not let deafblindness get in our way.
We are not alone.
Ushers are awesome!