Haywards Heath shopping centre duo raise almost £5,000 with charity skydive

Two members of the Orchards shopping centre team in Haywards Heath have raised almost £5,000 for St Catherine’s Hospice with a charity skydive.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 3:45 pm

Manager Nicola Bird, 44, and senior security officer Daren Cheeseman, 38, completed the 15,000 foot jump on Sunday (May 2) with GoSkydive at Old Sarum Park, Salisbury.

The daring duo had originally planned to do the skydive in May last year, as part of the annual Transforming Tomorrow event, but they were forced to postpone it when Covid-19 restrictions came in.

“It was incredible,” said Nicola, adding that the jump was both terrifying and beautiful.

Orchards shopping centre manager Nicola Bird doing a skydive for St Catherine's Hospice. Picture: GoSkydive

“It was like something out of a book, falling through clouds and just looking at the wonderful earth,” she said.

“The sun came out and it couldn’t have been a better day.”

But Nicola added that the experience was ‘noisy’ because they were falling at 125mph.

It was also cold, she said, with the air temperature being about -27 degrees.

Orchards shopping centre manager Nicola Bird doing a skydive for St Catherine's Hospice. Picture: GoSkydive

Nicola and Daren were given a choice of three different drops: 2,000, 7,000 or 15,000 feet.

“We wanted to do the big one, the 15,000,” said Nicola.

“We free-fell for one minute and then we did sort of spirals in the air, which made me feel a bit sick, but then we came in for a very comfortable landing.”

Nicola said Daren has a fear of heights but overcame this the moment he had his harnesses on and ended up ‘thoroughly enjoying’ the experience.

Senior security officer Daren Cheeseman from the Orchards shopping centre in Haywards Heath does a charity skydive for St Catherine's Hospice. Picture: GoSkydive

Nicola also said that she has a paralysed right arm but she was fortunate to get an instructor who was experienced at dealing with people with disabilities.

And she added that she was not tempted to back out.

“I knew, because people had donated their money, that no matter how I felt I had to fight through the fear,” she said.

In total, Nicola and Daren’s JustGiving page raised £4,889 for the skydive.

Senior security officer Daren Cheeseman from the Orchards shopping centre in Haywards Heath does a charity skydive for St Catherine's Hospice. Picture: GoSkydive

Nicola thanked all of the customers, colleagues and retailers for donating, as well as Malcolm Thorpe in particular for contributing £2,000.

“He is one of life’s lovely people and he always supports our charities,” said Nicola.

Click here to find out more about St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley.