Supporters and staff at Rennie Grove Hospice Care took to the skies last weekend to raise much-needed funds for the charity. Rennie Grove Hospice at Home Nurse Rob Formby, shop volunteer Phoebe Jones, Community Fundraising Officer Katie Eyton and High Wycombe resident Sue McHugh each jumped from 13,000 feet in a sponsored tandem skydive on Saturday 18 June.
Hospice at Home nurse Rob, who has worked with Rennie Grove’s south Bucks team since June 2015, said: “Words cannot give it justice… the best, best experience in 45 years of my life. Awesome and emotional: a dozen emotions in just over four minutes! Thank you to all my supporters in raising over £800. It means a lot to me and Rennie Grove Hospice Care and most importantly the patients I support daily.”
Phoebe, from High Wycombe, has been volunteering at Rennie Grove’s Bourne End shop since January 2014. She said: “The sky dive was absolutely amazing. I loved every second of it and just want to do it again! It's a feeling you can't describe - it feels like a dream!”
Katie, who lives in Beaconsfield and has worked with Rennie Grove since last August, said: “It was one of the scariest things I have ever done, but also one of the most rewarding. The smile that was on my face from the moment my shaky legs landed on the floor stayed in place for the rest of the weekend. I am so proud to have joined the exclusive club of people who have taken off in more aeroplane than they have landed! The perfect mix of fear, excitement and dread!”
Sue McHugh has been fundraising in memory of her partner Anthony Holmes since he died in June 2015 after being cared for by Rennie Grove’s Hospice at Home nurses. The sky dive was her most recent undertaking, having already rallied friends and family to take part in the charity’s Colour Blast run and Jingle Bell Jog. Sue has set up a Forever Loved Fund to build an online community of friends and family members who want to support her fundraising efforts in Anthony’s memory. She said: “We were very fortunate to have the help and care of Rennie Grove, which enabled Tony to be at home until the end. This was very important to us both as he had spent so much time in and out of hospital and we wanted him to be comfortable at home. I felt it was only fitting that we show our gratitude by raising money for Rennie Grove in Tony's memory. We set out to raise £5,000 in 12 months and we are very nearly there.
“The sky dive was the most amazing experience. It was very surreal and it is really hard to put into words what it felt like. I don't think you can do justice trying to explain the feeling of free falling at 120mph and then drifting down to the ground, still very fast but it felt like drifting in comparison to the free fall. The views were just amazing and there was a calming peacefulness to it. I also saw a circular rainbow on top of a cloud and it felt like a sign that Tony was watching over me.”
The tandem sky dives, organised in conjunction with specialist company Skyline, have proved an excellent way to raise funds to support the charity’s work. Director of Fundraising, Gillian Barnett, explains: “We’re so grateful to all the ‘divers’ who take on this massive personal challenge to raise funds for us. Many people – like Sue - choose a sky dive as a way of remembering someone special, facing their own personal fears to raise money for the charity that cared for their loved one so that other families can benefit in the future.”
So far this year’s sky divers have raised £4,500 towards Rennie Grove’s services for patients and families facing cancer and other life-limiting illness.