Back in 2014 I took to the sky in aid of Beat; the UK's leading charity for eating disorders.
Beat do fantastic work campaigning for better services and treatments, they offer a wide range of self-help and support groups for carers and sufferers, provide online forums and helplines, many of which served me well in my years of battling anorexia.
Beat also actively engage with a variety of research projects helping advance our understanding and treatment of eating disorders.
They help a wide range of eating disorders, not just anorexia. Their website has a lot of useful information about key signs and symptoms to look out for, how to help someone you know, help lines, support groups, and much more!
Their services have supported thousands of families and young people through many dark and difficult days. They are a testament to the optimistic outcomes, that with hard work and perseverance, recovery brings.
With the relevance this charity has had in my, and my families lives, it was no surprise that for my first charity challenge this was the one I gravitated towards.
Many hours were spent clicking on and off the "apply now for your charity skydive" link.
..."Will I raise enough to cover the skydive?" ...
..."I've never fundraised before I have no idea what to do"...
..."Why would anyone want to support me doing this"...
These were just a few of the anxious thoughts racing through my mind.
It's fair to say I made the right decision.
The application went through quickly and the fundraising pack arrived. [Eeeek]
I set up my first Just Giving Account. Posted endless social media posts annoying the hell out of friends and family, sent emails, wrote letters, took pictures...anything I could think of to rally up support.
For anyone who has fundraised before you will know the anxiety of the waiting game; will there be any donations?!
I had given myself a good 10 months to do this though, which was more than enough time. Although, I am someone who panics and wants to do everything immediately, so this was a massive learning curve for me to be patient and actually sit back and just wait. Luckily I had a year at University to distract me from getting too nervous, and also providing me with a fantastic opportunity to advertise the event to thousands of others.
As the months passed by the the donations began to come in. Endless comments and posts of love and support which energised me, filling me with confidence day by day.
I would get excited to see the Just Giving emails pop into my account, and read the comments of those who were supporting me. Many I had never met shared their stories of recovery and bravery, and others had found solace and hope in my reading my recovery journey.
I was finally achieving what I had set out to do.
The Big Day Arrived.
A sunny day eased the nerves. My parents joined me as we went to the airfield and then the registration and training began!
I think my mum was probably writing my will for me in the car.
I was one of the last to go up in the small, slightly shift, propeller plane. But the first to come down!
We went up a bit.
Then a bit more....
and then a bit more.
"Shit. This is high"
Surreal as it was to be dangling out of a plane the adrenaline killed the nerves.... I trusted the instructor and I was excited to finally fly.
Buzz Lightyear had nothing on me.
I was the first out of the plane because I was being filmed as well... no pressure. For this debut appearance I definitely went for the wind swept look. No time for that hair and makeup malarky.
"Legs underneath the plane, arms crossed, head back....3..2..1..."
[Queue High School Musical "We're soaring....flying...."]
To this day, nothing has beaten the feeling of free-falling; whirling down through the clouds, the wind blasting in your face...literally ripping the hat from my head and the goggles from my eyes!! [disadvantages of being small]
Breaking out into the glorious wide open, gliding above the rolling hills
and fields below.
You can see for miles.
I remember as I twirled downwards, arm stretched out like an eagle, thinking to myself:
"This is truly what freedom feels like"
I was flying for those still falling.
Everything. Is. So. Small.
Life. Is. So. Precious.
Up in the clouds, floating around, really puts things into perspective. I had finally accomplished my first big challenge, and achieved more than I began this endeavour believing I could, raising around £1000 for the charity who helped save my life.
...kind of ironic to jump out of a plane to say thanks. But needs must.
What's important to note is that all my previous worries about whether I would be able to fundraise enough were abolished. By simple monthly plugs on social media and reaching out to local groups, friends, family members and University clubs, I raised a fantastic amount, and challenged myself a whole load in the process. I realised that I could do more than I thought I was capable of, and this sparked my interest in charity events and fundraising which you can read more of on this site.
So if you're sitting on the fence wanting to do something similar yourself, please just go for it!
So, a HUGE thank you to everyone who supported this event
And thank you to all those who helped me fly when I was falling.
The money raised helps fund helplines and youthlines, run support groups, train staff, and fund campaigns.
It changes lives, creates solutions and provides the social support needed for recovery.
So, the question is now...who will you fall for, to help fly?