A BRAVE shop assistant has raised more than £400 for the Throat Cancer Foundation after her partner arranged a SECRET skydive for her to take part in – without her knowledge – in memory of her late grandmother.
Jemma Radbourne, 30, jumped 13,500 feet out of a plane on February 8 in the surprise gesture to raise funds for the leading throat cancer organisation than a month after her nan Hilda McSharry passed away, aged 82.
Jemma, from Stratton. St Margaret, Swindon, told how her long-term partner Dean Hart, 31, organised the daring surprise for her this month after she vowed to do something bold in honour of her nan, who died on Jemma’s birthday on January 13.
She explained: “My nan was diagnosed with throat cancer on May 23 last year.
“She didn’t have any chemo or radiotherapy but she had an operation which completely changed her life. She had a breathing tube put in.
“Sadly, after she came through the operation she wasn’t able to talk, eat or drink – she then had to have a feeding tube put in.
“My nan had always been so independent, then her life had changed completely.
“I’d feel guilty for eating a sandwich when she was there, it was so hard to do it in front of her because she wouldn’t be able to eat.
“She’d never stop me eating though. I was so close to her.”
For those that have to endure the gruelling throat cancer treatment process, they’re often left with life changing side effects. such as hair loss, nausea, weakened immune system, diarrhoea and constipation, mouth ulcers, constant fatigue, tissue damage, saliva gland damage and mucositis (inflamed and ulcerated lining from the mouth to the throat, making it extremely difficult to eat or drink). These side effects can last for months, years or for some, sadly permanent.
On January 13, the day of Jemma’s birthday, her nan passed away after her gruelling battle with the illness, after she was left unable to eat or speak.
Devastated Jemma knew immediately that she wanted to take part in a charity skydive to help others going through the same ordeal.
“I’d always said when my nan passed away, I would do a skydive for her. She passed away on my birthday on January 13,” Jemma said.
“I booked a skydive for the 26th of September, which is my nan’s birthday. But my partner beat me to it.”
Dean kept the skydive a secret from Jemma until she arrived at Neveravon airfield, a place where many people take part in skydives.
“He told me he was taking me away but wouldn’t tell me where,” Jemma said. “When we pulled up outside an airfield, I was like, oh my god, ‘why are we here?’
“He’d collected sponsor money from all the people that we knew. I was so tearful, especially when he handed me a t-shirt on it with a picture of my nan.”
Jemma was touched by the loving gesture and was soon diving out of a plane less than an hour after she arrived at the centre.
She believes her nan ‘cleared the skies’ for her ahead of her leap, as the rest of the skydives for the day were called off after hers was completed.
Jemma said: “I don’t think I’d ever have done a skydive if my nan hadn’t died. I’m such a girly girl, so to jump out of that plane is something that I never thought I’d do.
“The sky was so clear when I did it, then when I landed they called all the other jumps off.
“I have a feeling that my nan opened up the skies for me to jump – that she wanted me to do it.”
Jamie Rae, Chief Executive of the Throat Cancer Foundation, said: “We are thrilled at the support from Jemma in her daring charity skydive and all of our fundraisers who help towards the research of throat cancer.
“We are funded almost entirely by donations, we simply cannot support the growing number of people who need us without the continued generosity of the public.”
To take part in a charity skydive and help raise funds towards our Foundation, visit: https://www.goskydive.com/throat-cancer-foundation/