A courageous charity worker faced his fear of heights earlier this month and completed a sponsored skydive to raise £1,320 for The Sick Children’s Trust.
Alan Booth, 54, from Bethnal Green, shocked himself when he leapt out of the plane at 12,000 feet on 13 August to raise money for the charity he has dedicated the last five years of his life to.
Alan, who is currently the House Manager at the charity’s ‘Home from Home’ Stevenson House in Whitechapel, was inspired to embrace the challenge by a family who had been supported at Stevenson House after their son, Charlie, had been born prematurely. Throughout his time working for The Sick Children’s Trust Alan has met many families with seriously ill children undergoing lifesaving treatment at The Royal London Hospital. He has also been introduced to many brave children who have fought for their lives and recovered from illnesses or accidents. Alan says:
“I am so chuffed with myself for completing the skydive because I honestly thought I would bottle it - it was absolutely terrifying and my mouth has never been so dry! I couldn’t have spoken if I had wanted to, not that any of the nine people in our fundraising group were saying anything at all on the way up. The plane ride up to 12,000 feet when we were all squashed together and it was the most terrifying 25 minutes of my life. We were all crammed into this tiny plane absolutely petrified.
“I have always had a fear of heights, which means I can’t think rationally so I kept thinking I was going to fall out of the plane and then that I would fall out the harness during the dive itself. Nothing can prepare you for those few seconds when you are hanging out of the open plane before the instructor jumps. The plane was so noisy, with the instructors all shouting to each other and the engine roaring, but then once you jump out, everything becomes so quiet, like there is nobody else apart from you.
“When I looked at the video that was taken of me during the dive I realised I didn’t look as scared as I felt and luckily you can’t hear my screams of terror! The jump took about six minutes, and when we landed on the earth after what felt like forever, I was white as a sheet. Now, of course, I am so thrilled that I managed the dive and I just want to thank everybody who has sponsored and supported me during this time.”
The skydive took place in Maidstone, Kent, and Alan was accompanied by Charlie’s father, Gary and seven family friends. In addition to raising £1,320 for The Sick Children’s Trust, which runs ten free ‘Homes from Home’ across the country, Alan also took on the challenge in memory of his mum Rita who sadly passed away last year. Alan adds:
“Rita was thrilled when I started working for The Sick Children’s Trust, so it was really important to do this in her memory. Rita had a great sense of humour and a sharp wit and would think I was crazy for doing something so outrageous. My mother would have been so proud that I managed to complete the dive.”
Although the accommodation is provided free of charge to families, it costs The Sick Children’s Trust £30 to support a family for one night. Community Fundraising Manager, Elisa Cappello-Dowd, says:
“We are so proud of Alan for facing his fears and completing the skydive as part of a group who were raising money for The Sick Children’s Trust. It is always amazing when one of our own goes above and beyond for the charity.
“As a charity, we rely entirely on voluntary donations to keep our ten ‘Homes from Home’ running, so with the money raised throughout the next season, we will be able to keep more families together when they have a seriously ill child in hospital.”
If you’d like to sponsor Alan, and to read more about his story, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hearmescream