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Safe Landings For 'The Angels' (posted 23 June 10)

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Safe Landings for 'The Angels'

Picture: All Aboard!
All Aboard!


Friday 18th June 2010 was certainly a day to remember for the eventual ten members of 'The Angels' - the cathedral's intrepid sky diving team.

In virtually perfect weather conditions we arrived at Netheravon Airfield on Salisbury Plain between 10 - 11am with various friends, colleagues and family members in support.  Due to our slightly staggered arrival times, we were split into two groups for the essential 'training' and were then assigned to three separate flights.  

Picture: A confident Surveyor of the Fabric
A confident Surveyor of the Fabric


The following account of how the day unfolded was pretty much the same for each of us.

We all attended a compulsory 30 minute training session during which we learned 
-  how best to sit on our instructor 
-  the correct positions to adopt 
     i.    in the plane 
     ii.   when falling out of the plane
     iii.  whilst hurtling through the skies at 128 miles per hour  
     iv.  when coming in to land
and most importantly 
- what NOT to shout if you had booked a camera man to film you (any lipreaders will appreciate that one!) 


Fully trained, we donned the very fetching blue/red jump suits and extremely silly helmets and googles and, having been fitted snugly into our harnesses and with our instructors in tow, made our way to the grass runway where the plane awaited us.



Picture: The point of no return for the Chapter Secretary
The point of no return for the Chapter Secretary

After a 20 minute climb up to 13,000ft (or a little higher in some cases if the instructor's altimeters were anything to go by) the side door to the plane was rolled back - this was no time to consider backing out, despite the nerves that had, by now, kicked in for most of us.

Shuffling down the length of the plane whilst VERY tightly strapped to the man behind you is not the easiest thing to do but we all got to the open door in the end - possibly a little too quickly for some!

Dangling on the edge of the plane for several seconds was possibly the most nerve racking part of the jump but, before we could have any second thoughts, we were rolling off the ledge into .... well, oblivion!

Picture: Perfect Landing for Bishop Mark
Perfect Landing for Bishop Mark


The skydive itself was 'a jump of two parts'.  

1.  40/45 seconds of complete 'take your breath away' exhilaration while you drop about 8,000ft, travelling at around 128 miles per hour and, for some of us, trying to smile and wave at the cameraman positioned about 8ft away from you going just as fast.  There really is no sensation of falling at speed, apart from the intense and constant pressure of the air on your face.

2  After the initial shock of the parachute being deployed, the silence of the 4 to 5 mins that followed was just wonderful.  That weightless feeling of floating down to the ground was beautiful.  Occassional spiraling manoeuvres to steer the chute towards the landing zone gave us the opportunity to appreciate the views which, for those with fairly good eyesight, included Stonehenge in the distance.

We all remembered our training and lifted our legs to allow the instructors to take the landings which were surprisingly gentle.  Standing up afterwards was a challenge for some whose legs had decided to do a good impression of jelly.

At the end of the day, all ten 'cathedral' skydivers, regardless of any pre-jump nerves, were full of their own accounts of the experience and extremely pleased they had signed up for the 'team' and helped towards raising lots of money for the cathedral and their own personal charity.

So who were the final TEN and what were other charities will be benefiting?

Debbie Atlee, Chapter Secretary (and organiser of the event) - The Multiple Sclerosis Society
Colin Kerr, Surveyor of the Fabric - St Peter Le Poer Church in Muswell Hill
The Right Reverend Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham - donating all sponsorship going to the cathedral project
Sam Moore, Restoration & Development Trust - Alzheimer's Society
Louise Martin, Liturgy & Music Assistant - The Dogs Trust
Chantelle Hammond, Cloisters Café - Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Shelagh Legrave, Vice Principle of Chichester College % wife of cathedral's Liturgy & Music Administrator - Stonepillow
Roberta Gavigan, daughter of The Revd Canon Jo Gavigan, Prebendary of Hampstead (unable to jump herself at the last minute) - St Richard's Church, Maybridge
Maddy Godfrey, daughter of the Restoration & Development Trust Director - Worthing Churches Homeless Project
Andrew Harvey, Cathedral Enterprises General Manager (until 7 June) - donating all sponsorship to the cathedral project

A huge THANK YOU (from the Chapter Secretary) to all the others who desparately wanted to be part of the team were unable for various reasons (usually over cautious doctors!)
 

So, was it all worth it?

The answer to that has got to be 'YES'.  
As well as us all having an absolutely great day, we are only now starting to realise the amount of money we are, collectively, likely to have raised.  

As at today, 23 June, we are well on our way to raising somewhere in the region of £5,000 of which about £3,000 will be going to the Cathedral's Restoration and Development Trust to help towards the cost of the new, decorated aumbry door in The Lady Chapel.   It may be several weeks before we know the final figure but, be assured, details will be posted here, on the website with a breakdown of the individual amounts being sent by the team members to their various personal charities.    A full write up, which we hope will include many more photographs (we are still receiving these in from the various budding 'David Baileys' on the ground) will be featured in the next Cathedral Newsletter.

If you are one of our many sponsors kind enough to pledge your support prior to the event, you will shortly be contacted with details of how and where to send your money.   If you don't want to wait, you can drop either cash, or a cheque made payable to 'Chichester Cathedral Restoration and Development Trust' into the cathedral office reception (please note who the money is from so we can mark you as having paid) or send it to: 
Mrs Debbie Atlee, Chapter Secretary, The Royal Chantry, Cathedral Cloisters, Chichester PO19 1PX.


It's not too late to sponsor the team if you missed the opporunity before the big day. 
This can be done ONLINE at www.sponsorformsonline.co.uk/chicathskydive.asp
or by contacting the Chapter Secretary direct on (01243) 812491 or by email at chaptersec@chichestercathedral.org.uk

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