I’m not sure when I developed a fear of heights. As a child I climbed trees but I grew to be a shy, anxious, introverted teenager.
My first jump. We didn’t have tandem jumping when I was training!
I found two things I loved. Playing the piano – but only for myself! And dancing. In my mid-teens I as was introduced to Ballroom and Latin American dancing. When I was 18, my examiners started to encourage me to compete. At the time, there were more girls than boys dancing, this made finding a suitable partner difficult. I also wondered whether I’d love it as much, as I’d need to spend most of my free time practising.
So, instead of dancing competitively I joined 18+. A local social club for 18 to 30 year olds. I got involved in lots of activities. Often they’d finish with a take away and a group of us putting the world to rights into the early hours.
Fear of heights
On one occasion we went to the theatre. We ended up with seats high-up in the circle. I walked happily (whilst laughing and joking with friends) through the door to the circle. I suddenly found myself violently frozen to the spot. The height hadn’t dawned on me at all! Now, having walked into the circle, I was faced with a steep drop down into the stalls. Every muscle in my body felt rigid. My friends took my arms and somehow managed to drag, push and manoeuvre me to my seat. It was a very uncomfortable experience, and the first time I’d realised the effect my fear of heights could have on me.
Here we are getting ready to jump. I’m second from the right with a big smile!
Jump out of an aeroplane? Me?
A while later the chairman of Bromsgrove 18+ asked if I’d do a sponsored parachute jump to raise money for charity. I was horrified! How could he ask me to do such a thing? Since the evening at the theatre, my fear of heights wasn’t exactly a secret. I rounded on him saying, “don’t be stupid, I’m terrified of heights!” or words to that effect… I wasn’t prepared to entertain the idea – at the time anyhow.
Back at home I was very indignant as I ranted on to my Dad about the Chairman’s request. He listened quietly and then, without any memorable comment, went off to do something else. “That’s odd” I thought. But, at least I’d been able to let off steam a bit. Sometime later he casually came back and said, “if you do the parachute jump I’ll sponsor you £5.00.”
Aren’t Dad’s supposed to protect their daughters?!
Well, it gave me the push to decide I could do it. And I’m glad it did. Conquering this fear is just one of many challenges I would face over the coming years.
I also continue to do my bit for charity. Last year I supported the Midlands Air Ambulance’s 25th Anniversary celebrations and 2017 will be my second year supporting Healing Hands Network in Sarajevo.
The lovely ladies of Swanpool WI recently gave me my first opportunity to deliver this new talk. So, in addition to my popular Hereford & Worcester’s 1st female paramedic and Recognising Stress Early talks you can now book £5, Parachuting & Me.