25 intrepid skydivers took part in a Mass Skydive at Salisbury Airfield earlier this year raising sponsorship for the Youth Cancer Trust.
One of the 25 was Thomas Green who kindly wrote an article about his experiences skydiving for the Trust.
Thomas is a regular visitor to Bournemouth based Youth Cancer Trust and has been coming every year with the same group of young people from the South West. Thomas has had two brain tumours and lives with many after effects of having had extensive brain surgery and cancer treatment.
“The Youth Cancer Trust has allowed the space to talk to other young people with cancer. It has let me be serious with these people but it has let me to laugh with these people. I have made some special friends here. At Tracy Ann House I have been able to experience being a young person again. As well as cancer affecting one’s physical being it also has a massive effect on your social life, confidence and how quickly you grow up. Often you experience things that would not be a part of life until you were much older. Cancer is a thing that removes you from those around you and removes you from the progression of your life. The Youth Cancer Trust addresses these issues directly.
It is really important to be around people who have been affected by cancer. It shows that, ‘you are not alone’, ‘you can choose to be open’ and ‘that you can feel ok with other people’. The fact that as a group you do things together is a very special thing. The shared experience of cancer becomes a shared experience of laughter and positivity.
As well as being introduced into groups carefully put together there are many activities on offer to help rebuild one’s life. Things like horse riding, dry slope skiing, sailing, Karaoke and go-karting really help in boosting confidence. The fact that all these things are done with people like you makes it immensely easier.” Says Thomas.
Last year Thomas felt he wanted to give something back to the charity and bravely decided to take part in the mass skydive.
“I saw the skydive advertised on the website www.youthcancertrust.org. I thought about it very carefully, considering the many issues and disabilities that cancer has left me with. I was nervous about falling out of an aeroplane but to do this for the wonderful and special thing that is the Youth Cancer Trust cancelled out my anxieties. First of all I had to seek the permission of my GP and Consultant doctors. I waited nervously for their replies. Eventually they gave their permission. The donations were amazing, everyone was so generous. It made me feel so wonderful. It was going to raise some money and it was going be a real personal achievement. I had told some people about the ‘jump’ and a few of them told me some horror stories! This was not going to stop me now!
The night before the ‘dive’ I felt so high with excitement and nervous energy. I didn’t sleep much that night that is for certain. On the drive down the airfield my grin was from ear to ear. I really was so ready to do this amazing thing.
Upon arriving at the airfield I was told that there was too much cloud and to wait. Time moved on but the cloud did not. It went from nine o’clock to lunchtime and beyond. People were leaving now and rescheduling their skydives. The nervous tension was palpable. After the build-up and the expectancy of my donors I felt I couldn’t not do it. By late afternoon only a few of us were left and I was aching at the thought of not doing the skydive.
Then the clouds cleared a little and we were given the thumbs up. I put on a special jump suit, gloves and a leather helmet. This was it, no going back now.
The instructor led me the final few feet to the plane. Once inside I gulped once and then began to beam, both with my outside smile and on the inside. Then the plane took off. It took twenty minutes to get up to ten thousand feet. I remember how I looked at the open door thinking, ‘that door shouldn’t be open, I might fall out’.
Now it was time to go. All my senses, my mind and nature were telling me not to do it. I remembered why I was there and was completely ready. There was a little shuffle to the door and then I was hanging off the plane in the air. I was attached to the instructor’s chest. I had to go first.
Then there was an incredible surge of air, a deafening and whistling wind – I was in freefall. I can only describe it as sensory overload and sensory deprivation at the same time. I could not depend upon my senses to tell me where I was, how fast I was going or even which way up I was. My brain told me that I was hurtling though space but it did not matter. It was just incredible to be there, at that moment with the clouds below me and the plane above me. I fell for five thousand feet. It took just twenty-five seconds to travel that distance.
The next five thousand feet was relatively sedate. The instructor released the parachute and I felt the sensations of soaring and gliding. To cover that distance took about three minutes. At this level you can talk to the instructor and share this incredible thing. The world from that point is so unimaginably beautiful. I felt so joyous and really quite emotional.
Our landing was smooth and when I was able to stand up straight I let out a roar of exhilaration and happiness. I hugged my instructor and smiled broadly
To do a skydive is an unbelievable thing and to do it for the Youth Cancer Trust magnifies that feeling a hundred times over.”
Thomas raised over £4,000 for the Youth Cancer Trust.
Thomas is an absolute inspiration to us all at the Trust; we watched the video of his skydive with tears rolling down our faces. He epitomises that ‘anything is possible’ and we are very grateful for his amazing fundraising efforts.
Would you like to take part in a skydive to raise money for the Youth Cancer Trust? then click here to find out more.
Thomas is a Youth Cancer Trust ambassador and is pictured below speaking at the National Childhood Cancer Conference.
Thank you Thomas for sharing your story with us.