A woman from Stoke on Trent has completed a tandem skydive to raise funds for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Claire Harbidge, who is 51 and from Mow Cap, travelled to Tilstock in Whitchurch to complete the jump on 1 June.
She was strapped to an experienced skydiver and taken in a small aircraft to 10,000 feet before taking a courageous leap of faith from the plane to enjoy the descent back to earth.
“A skydive is something I have always wanted to do. I found the idea quite liberating and wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone.
“When I turned 50, I thought yes, I’m going to do that skydive now. So last Christmas my husband bought the skydive for me as a special gift as he knew it was something I’d always dreamed of doing. You only live once, and I don’t want to have any regrets.”
Blind Veterans UK’s ‘Victory Over Blindness’ statue at Manchester Piccadilly Station had a lasting impact on Claire and led her to want to fundraise for the charity.
“I was in Manchester and saw the statue outside the station and then when I went inside there was a group of blind veterans recreating the statue wearing old military uniforms. They had been stood completely still for hours.
“It was hugely moving and I felt so humbled. It made me realise that I take my sight for granted doing simple everyday things. I went home and I looked up the charity’s website to find out more. It really was a personal thing that just moved me.
“These men and women have done so much for our country and I wanted to give something back.”
Claire was joined by her three children, husband, and her mum to support her on the day of the skydive.
“I was feeling really excited and had no nerves at all. I think my family were far more nervous than me.”
“Before the jump I felt very calm, I felt safe at all times and couldn’t wait to experience the buzz of freefall and the feeling of gracefully parachuting down to earth.
“The experience was all I had hoped for and more thanks to the team at Skydive Tilstock. After the jump I felt exhilarated and wanted to do it all again! Such a great experience which I would recommend to anyone considering it, go for it! You won’t regret it.
“It was easy to book, I was able to book my chosen day on their website. There was one false start when my initial date was cancelled due to the weather conditions but I was only delayed by two days.
“This has been a massive personal achievement for me but it also feels amazing to have given something back even if my fundraising is only a small drop in the ocean of what is needed.”
Claire has already exceeded her initial fundraising target but you can still support Claire by visiting her Just Giving page: JustGiving.com/Fundraising/Claire-Harbidge
If you are inspired by Claire and would like to take on a challenge for Blind Veterans UK visit our website for details of challenge event places or to sign up for virtual challenge information Ways to get involved – Blind Veterans UK
Blind Veterans UK supports thousands of blind veterans across the country, but knows there are up to 50,000 more who still need its support to rebuild their lives after sight loss.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit blindveterans.org.uk/support