A while back in 2013, I was volunteering at a performing arts centre for disabled young adults. I had never done anything like it before, so it was a completely new experience for me, and I had no idea how I was going to get on there. But after just one day, I really started to love it.
The Orpheus Centre in Godstone focuses on teaching drama, music, art, and life skills to young adults between the ages of 18-25, and it became a second home to me for the next 6 months. I really can’t describe the community atmosphere there, the students and staff are incredibly friendly and welcoming, and as described by one of the musicians I met there during ‘Song Week’ the whole place is like ‘one big hug’.
I could go on for days about the experiences I had there, but I just wanted to give a bit of background on the reason I temporarily lost my mind and decided to jump out of a plane at 10,000 ft.
I started a campaign online with just-giving.com and we organised a coffee morning where all the volunteers got together, baked cakes and brownies and we talked to friends and family about the incredibly charity we were fundraising for. It went really well, and a few weeks later we had all reached our targets. Between the 19 of us jumping I think we raised around £4000. And having been there for 6 months, I know where the money goes, new instruments and better studio equipment, and ipads for the students to express themselves with, not just musically but also verbally as well (which is something that is easy to take for granted, but giving that ability to someone can huge implications for some)
On the Saturday, I thought I’d be a lot more nervous than I was, I guess I just wasn’t thinking about it too much. We did the training, and got our jumpsuits on, and got lined up in the plane ready to jump.
When you’re up at 10,000 feet, you’re quite a bit above the clouds, so it’s incredibly sunny and beautiful. Then they open the door, and it just never quite felt right to be in a plane with the door open. I was the last to jump, so I had seen everyone suddenly disappear after sitting on the edge of the plane.
Then there was this surreal moment, when it was just me and the instructor left and we shuffled to the edge of the plane, my legs dangling out the side and the wind is rushing past you, and you’re holding onto your harness straps thinking “There really is no going back now”. Just as that happens you’re horizontal and wrapped in a 120mph wind as you fall incredibly quickly towards the big fluffy clouds.
We got 30 seconds of free fall, but it felt like 10. At 5000 / 4000 feet, the parachute opens and your brain catches up to what just happened, as you’re gifted with the most amazing view of Salisbury and the surrounding area.
I loved every second of it, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s ever said to themselves that they want to do it at least once in their lives. You won’t regret it, that’s a promise.