Welcome to the first post in what I expect to be a fairly short-lived blog - in fact I only expect to be running it until mid-September.
For reasons which seem good to me, I've decided to jump out of a plane at approximately 3,000 ft, with only a piece of silk to slow me down to a survivable landing speed. I expect to be doing this on Sunday 16 September, after spending Saturday training for the event.
The catch is, I suffer from acrophobia - fear of heights. To the extent that standing on a chair makes me nervous and sitting in the upper circle of a theatre can be downright terrifying.
So why am I going for a parachute jump? Two reasons:
One, I hope this will help me conquer my fear of heights - shock treatment, you could say. I think it's a good thing to identify your weaknesses and try to eliminate them.
Second, and much more importantly, I'm doing this jump to raise funds for the North West Cancer Research Fund. I have good personal reasons for supporting cancer research. Not long before Easter (and a few days before her 51st birthday), a friend of mine died of cancer after spending most of the last couple of years of her life in hospital. It's a terrible way to die, and something like one in eight of the population end up dying of some form of cancer. I myself had an anxious couple of weeks a few years ago when the doctor said I might have cancer, but thankfully the tests came back all clear - but next time, who knows? Anyone can get cancer, it sneaks up on you, and by the time you're feeling unwell enough to go to the doctor it could be too late.
So I decided that going for a sponsored parachute jump for the North West Cancer Research Fund would be a good way of overcoming my fear of heights while also paying tribute to my late friend and making a contribution towards maybe avoiding a similar fate for me and other people in the future.
I plan on using this blog to record my training for this jump, both physical and mental - especially mental, which is exactly what I must be for embarking on this venture. Also of course to try to raise some extra sponsorship money. I'll be tapping friends and people at work for contributions of course, but I also plan to raise money online, in aid of which I've opened an account with an outfit called Justgiving, who are hosting a fundraising page for me here:
It's really easy to use a payment card to make a contribution through Justgiving, and if you happen to be a UK taxpayer, Justgiving will automatically reclaim 28% Gift Aid on your behalf - so if you contribute £10 (just as an example, any amount will help), £12.80 will end up going to the charity.
So please give generously - I hope to raise at least £1,000 for cancer research this way - and frankly the more money I can raise, the more motivated I will be to chuck myself out of that plane!