Former Crawley headteacher throws herself into charity skydive

Rosemary Benwell SUS-140616-104812001
Rosemary Benwell SUS-140616-104812001

A former headteacher has thrown herself out of an aeroplane to raise hundreds of pounds to help young families.

Rosemary Benwell, who was in charge of Northgate Primary School in the 1990s, took part in the tandem skydive on Saturday (June 14).

She jumped from two miles above Salisbury Plain, strapped to “a very hunky paramedic” to raise money for family support charity, Home-Start CHAMS.

The charity, which is based in Broadfield Barton, works across Crawley, Horsham and Mid-Sussex (CHAMS), supporting families with young children, where the parents are experiencing difficulties or struggling to cope.

Rosemary used the jump not only to help the charity but to celebrate her 70th birthday.

She said: “I decided I didn’t need birthday presents this year so I’ve asked my friends and family to sponsor me for my skydive instead

“And what a great way to raise money for a charity I know does so much good locally.”

Family and friends certainly stepped up to the mark and Rosemary broke through her £1,000 target and raised £1,200.

Describing the jump, she said: “It was a fantastic experience. The first bit was free fall for a mile and then, a mile above the Earth, the parachute opened and I had the opportunity to enjoy the view even more.

“It’s not something I would have ever considered doing before, but I was hitched up with a paramedic who also parachutes so that was reassuring.”

The jump was streamed live to watching relatives and Rosemary said her grandchildren now think is famous.

A regular fundraiser, she has taken part in an abseil down the side of a Gatwick hotel – an experience she said was more frightening than the skydive.

Rosemary estimates she has raised £2-3,000 for various charities over the years.

As for her choice of Home-Start CHAMS, she said: “I am a trustee for the charity and know just how important their work is.

“They’ve increased the fundraising they’re doing in the community over the last year, with things like the Brighton Marathon in April and the Nuts Challenge that’s coming up in August.

“But it seemed easier for me to jump out of a plane than train for a marathon. I would recommend it for anyone.”

It’s not too late to sponsor Rosemary’s cause. To contribute, log on to or text RBEN70 followed by the amount you wish to donate to 70070.