A Leicestershire woman overcame her life-long fear of heights to jump out of an aeroplane at 13,000 feet in aid of people affected by dementia.
Carol Cooke, of Glen Parva, brushed aside her phobia of heights to join boss Chris Mead and three colleagues from gas network company Cadent for the ‘One Giant Leap’ charity skydive in aid of Alzheimer’s Society.
Strapped to flying instructors for the tandem skydives, their adrenaline-fuelled efforts at Hinton Skydiving Centre near Brackley, Northamptonshire on Sunday 11 March raised a whopping £5,377.
“I have a real fear of heights and when my colleague Aimee proposed this as a team fundraiser for Cadent’s partner charity, Alzheimer’s Society, I went white,” said Carol, Head of HR Services. But I was determined to face my fears for this worthwhile cause. I wanted to set an example for my step-daughters.
“Going up in the plane and then dangling my legs out of the door at 13,000 feet was horrendous but the jump was incredible. It was so beautiful. We went through a cloud where we were surrounded by a rainbow. I would definitely do it again for charity,” she said.
Colleague and Head of Employee Relations Keri Handford, of Kirby Muxloe, added: “A couple of us needed a bit of coaxing but once we started getting the sponsorship there was no backing out. I was absolutely petrified beforehand but it was amazing. Once the parachute opened it felt like you were standing in the air. There was even a rainbow. I’d do it again.”
Head of HR Chris Mead said: “I am very proud of Carol, Keri and the whole team. They were very brave.”
Dave Bassett, Alzheimer’s Society Services Manager in Leicestershire and Rutland said: “Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer, with someone developing it every three minutes. We urgently need to find a cure, improve care and offer help and understanding for people affected.
“We would like to thank Cadent’s HR team for uniting against dementia to support our work. They smashed their fundraising target and this money will make a huge difference to people with dementia.”
In June Cadent announced a two-year fundraising partnership with Alzheimer’s Society. The company has pledged to raise £100,000 for the charity and to make at least 1,000 employees ‘Dementia Friends’.
‘Dementia Friends’ information sessions help people better understand the challenges faced by those living with dementia and the small ways in which they can help.
Alzheimer’s Society provides information and support for people with dementia and their families, funds research and creates lasting change for people affected by dementia. For more information about Alzheimer’s Society go to alzheimers.org.uk
10 facts about dementia
- 850,000 people with dementia in the UK – set to rise to one million by 2021.
- Dementia is the leading cause of death in England and Wales.
- One person develops dementia every three minutes.
- Dementia is not a natural part of ageing – over 40,000 people under the age of 65 are living with the condition.
- Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain – diseases such as Alzheimer’s cause nerve cells to die, damaging the structure and chemistry of the brain.
- It’s not just about memory loss. Although dementia often starts by affecting short-term memory, it can also affect the way people think, speak, perceive things, feel and behave.
- People can still live well with dementia. Scientists and researchers are working to find a cure but until then support and treatments are available that can help with dementia symptoms and managing daily lives.
- £40 pays for five people with dementia to attend an Alzheimer’s Society ‘Singing for the Brain’ session
- £150 pays for an Alzheimer’s Society National Dementia Helpline Advisor to provide 10 hours of crucial support to people affected by dementia
- £610 would pay for a Doctoral Training Centre to run for one day helping up to eight PhD researchers carry out ground-breaking studies in dementia research