Freya McLeish, 17, participated in her first skydive in aid of Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT) on 3rd May. A 15,000ft jump from an airplane isn’t for the faint of heart, and Freya proved up to the task. She took on this challenge for the most personal of reasons. “I chose to raise money for DAAT because of my Granddad’s recent heart attack and his involvement with the fantastic DAAT crew”.
Freya’s Grandfather was admitted to North Devon District Hospital back in February with severe chest pains. As his condition worsened, it became apparent that he would need stents fitted to unblock his coronary arteries to avoid heart failure. This type of procedure is carried out at the RD&E Wonford Hospital in Exeter.
There was a very high chance that Granddad would have suffered a fatal heart attack or sustained irreversible heart damage if the operation wasn’t carried out promptly. DAAT transferred him within the hour to the RD&E and his operation was successful. My family now knows the importance of the air ambulance for people like us who live in rural areas away from major hospitals. A land ambulance would not have gotten Granddad to Exeter in time. We are hugely grateful to DAAT, not least of all Granddad”.
It is because of this incident that Freya decided to become proactive for the Charity that helped save her Grandfather’s life. “This seemed like a perfect opportunity to raise awareness and funds for DAAT while doing something I always wanted to challenge myself to do”.
The day of the skydive was highly nerve-wracking for eager Freya. “I was really excited about the prospect while I was fundraising, but as the day approached, I realised what I’d let myself in for. I was actually terrified.” It had been rather cloudy on that Saturday, and Freya had to wait for the cover to clear before taking the leap. She nervously awaited her skydive with her family, including Granddad.
Freya’s inner courage took over as she was finally allowed up in the plane to make the jump. “It’s hard to remember what I felt as I was dangling at the edge of the plane door, I suspect terror. The next few minutes though were pure exhilaration and ecstasy. When we landed, it didn’t feel real. I couldn’t believe what I had just done! The day was an emotional rollercoaster for us all, but I would recommend it to anyone”. Freya cites that professionalism of the staff at Skydive UK Dunkeswell as being a comfort during the momentous day. This personal journey ended in smiles and was a proud moment for the young girl who has already made a difference in her local community.
Freya has raised roughly £1300 for DAAT from her skydiving endeavour. Caroline Creer, Fundraising Director of Devon Air Ambulance Trust, says, “Everyone at the Charity is not only thankful but exceptionally proud of Freya for taking on such a brave challenge for us, and raising an incredible amount of funds in the process. We are thrilled with both her accomplishment and her Grandfather’s recovery.”