Damerham’s Tilly Shepherd, 26, made a 10,000-foot skydive to raise money for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, three years after it came to the rescue of a family friend, Hayley, who suffered life-threatening injuries after falling from her horse.
“Hayley’s sister, Tanya Elston, has been a close friend of ours since I was around six years old and after she suffered her fall, I wanted to do something to help,” she said.
Tilly, who has cerebral palsy, decided that a skydive would be a great way to raise money for the Air Ambulance that helped save Hayley’s life.
As her dive day was around three years after Hayley’s accident, Tilly decided £3,000 was the perfect amount to aim for.
“The jump was from Old Sarum Airfield and there were loads of us doing it that day,” she said. After watching the induction video, she was placed in a practice harness to ensure she could land safely.
At 12 noon Tilly’s plane set off and she was strapped to her instructor.
“As you get to the drop zone you come to the front of the seating bench and then they just push you out,” said Tilly. “I didn’t open my eyes until I was outside the plane but when I did, it was amazing – you could see huge amounts of the countryside beneath you.”
The drop comprised of a speedy 30-second free-fall, during which she went through some small clouds. Then, after the parachute was open, the drop slowed up, giving her panoramic views of the Wiltshire countryside. “It was quiet and very surreal and I had a lot of time to see what was below me,” she said.
Following a gentle landing, she was able to speak to her support team, who included Hayley and Tanya, and they were all able to see the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance as it flew overhead.
Most of Tilly’s sponsorship money came from friends, family and colleagues at the Salisbury branch of NFU Mutual, where she works. She is now planning to raise more money for the DSAA air ambulance in future.
by Faith Eckersall