In December 2021 Louise Jones, co-owner of The Coffee Bank in Ottery St Mary, learned that Hospiscare’s vital services were under threat.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a drastic funding deficit for our local charity and we were forced to launch an emergency ‘Save our Services’ appeal. After speaking to our Corporate Officer, Ellie Williams, Louise knew that she and the team had to do something. Louise explains, “When I heard that Hospiscare’s services could be reduced or even lost due to lack of funding, I knew that we needed to get involved. After speaking to Ellie, we decided to join Hospiscare’s 40 Club and pledge to raise £1,000 for Hospiscare in the charity’s 40th year.
“As part of The 40 Club, we offer our customers a round-up incentive and we also fundraise every month through holding raffles, prize draws, treasure hunts and much more.”
It was just another ordinary work day for Louise when Ellie stopped by for a coffee and casually asked if she would be willing to jump out of a plane to raise funds for Hospiscare. Despite her fears, Louise immediately jumped at the chance. Louise continues, “As the date of the jump drew closer, it suddenly began to feel very real! I talked my two employees and fellow mums, Jodie and Susie, into joining me.
“None of us have done anything like this before, but we wanted to do it for Hospiscare as we have all been affected by cancer within our families and know first-hand the amazing work that Hospiscare provides. They are true heroes!
“As scared as we all were, it was something we could tick off our bucket lists, and raising vital funds for Hospiscare at the same time was a bonus!”
Louise, Jodie and Susie were due to jump on 15 May but unfortunately their skydive was postponed due to poor weather conditions. Louise says, “As scared as we all were, we were gutted as we were so ready to jump! When the text came through to say the conditions weren’t safe for the jump, we all rebooked straight away!”
The trio were given a new jump date of 12 June and with their busy work and family schedules, the time flew by. Louise continues, “In the lead-up, we were really nervous, but the more customers we spoke to whilst raising our sponsorship for Hospiscare, the more we realised how dear the charity is to so many people in our community. It spurred us on even more.
“The day itself was great! Because we were all so nervous, we felt very bonded going through the scary task at hand together.
“Ellie and Sharon from the Hospiscare fundraising team met us at the airfield. They were so encouraging and supportive. Our family and friends were all there to support us and the adrenaline really started to kick in!
“After our safety briefing, we walked to the plane and met the Skydive Buzz team who were all absolutely amazing – laughing and joking with us, making us feel relaxed but also safe. Our names were called over the tannoy and our instructors got us suited up. It was really happening – we were off to board the plane!
“As we waited for the go-ahead, Ellie reminded us how grateful Hospiscare patients and their families would be for the money we were raising. We all had a moment where we hugged, cried and then took a deep breath – let’s do this!
“In no time we were in the air, clipped to our instructors who were talking to us the entire time. We were told we’d reached 5000ft, with just another 10,000ft to go. We looked out of the window, and then at each other and, I must admit, a swear word or two was spoken!
“We were way above the clouds when the door opened and the light went green. It was time. Jodie jumped first. She was so brave. Susie was next and then it was my turn. The scariest bit was reaching the edge of the plane door. Then I jumped.
“I had a one minute free fall of 120mph with my instructor which was fantastic – it was such a buzz! Then it was around five minutes with the parachute. It’s hard to put into words how the jump felt. It was so peaceful, calm and serene and it felt like nothing else mattered. We were so high in the sky, so small, yet so big and powerful to be doing this for our local hospice.
“We got to do a few twists and turns and steer the parachute ourselves which was so cool! When we landed, we were all buzzing. Our family and friends were all there and they ran over to hug us. They were so proud. Our children ran over to hug us and then we hugged each other. It was so emotional.
“Even after a week, we were all still on a high. We are so proud of ourselves. It’s amazing what the body can do and what limits you can push yourself to. We are so happy that we did the skydive and so honoured to support such a brilliant cause. We want to do it all over again!”
By taking on the challenge of a lifetime, Louise, Jodie and Susie raised an incredible £2,416 for our local charity.
Louise concludes, “We want to say a huge thank you to EVERY single customer, business owner, caregiver, colleague, friend and family member for all of their kind and generous donations.
“We also want to thank Ellie, Sharon and the Hospiscare team, as well as the Skydive Buzz team for their amazing support.
“To anyone that is considering a skydive or any kind of challenge for Hospiscare, absolutely do it!”
To take on the challenge of a lifetime and raise vital funds for local end-of-life care, please click here or get in touch with our fundraising team by emailing email@example.com or calling 01392 688052.