Skydiving mayor swaps her wheelchair for a parachute

Crawley mayor Chris Cheshire SUS-160119-092437001
Crawley mayor Chris Cheshire SUS-160119-092437001
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Daredevil mayor Chris Cheshire is casting aside her wheelchair - to leap out of an aircraft at 13,000 feet.

Seventy-one-year-old Chris - mayor of Crawley - is undertaking the skydive to raise money for two charities close to her heart.

But she admitted: “I’m probably mad to do it.”

She is taking the plunge to raise cash for the Springboard Project, a charity that helps disabled children, and Crawley Community and Voluntary Service.

But finding a club and instructor willing to take her on to make the leap was difficult - but she eventually found one near Oxford. “I suppose when everyday living has its challenges, skydiving is a bit extreme ... I am a bit deficient in the landing gear department!”

Chris has been unable to walk for the past 25 years after suffering damage to her spinal cord following major surgery on her right leg.

“I’m well used to life on wheels,” she said. “If you have had part of your life when you are not disabled, then become disabled, you become more acutely aware of some of the unfairnesses facing people who have been disabled all their life.

“It brings into sharp focus for me the challenges that children at Springboard face from day one.”

And it’s for that reason that she’s helping disabled youngsters with her skydive due to take place on April 26.

She confesses that she might be ‘a bit apprehensive’ on the morning of the jump. “But I think once I’m through the door it will be a phenomenal adrenaline buzz.

“The biggest challenge is that I can’t do anything with my legs to help with landing. That’s why a lot of clubs won’t take on people like me.”

But she has found an instructor who she will be strapped to as they jump from the aircraft. “My feet will rest on his feet.”

The skydive will be the last of 12 charity events Chris has organised in her mayoral year and she hopes to have raised both money and awareness of the work done by CCVS and Springboard.

She might also have challenged stereotypes of age and disability in the process “striking a blow for ageing wheelies,” she says.

To find out more or to sponsor Chris, go to www.justgiving.com/MayorChris-skydive