Hft | Charity workers prepare for skydive for people with learning disabilities

A graphic designer from Bristol is preparing to skydive for the first time in ten years after previously experiencing a canopy malfunction, to raise money for the national learning disabilities charity, Hft.

Sarah Connop, together with her colleague, Matt Rogers, who both work in Hft’s External Communications team, will be free falling for around 50 seconds from a height of 10,000ft at speeds of up to 120mph to raise funds for the cause.

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Matt will be overcoming his fear of heights to take on his first ever skydive, while Sarah, who previously took up skydiving hasn’t jumped since experiencing a canopy malfunction. On her sixth solo jump, she experienced what is known as a ‘line over’. This meant after the chute was released one of the lines became tightly stretched over the inflated canopy instead of being underneath it. The result was an uncontrollable spin and Sarah needed to cut away the canopy before deploying the reserve chute.

Sarah, 44, from Bradley Stoke, said she has always intended to jump again and had booked to do so on a couple of occasions but been forced to cancel due to bad weather conditions. She feels skydiving to raise money for Hft was just the opportunity she was looking for.

“Throughout the pandemic, our frontline care staff have worked so hard to keep the people they support safe,” said Sarah.

“Their stories of courage during a time of adversity have been truly inspirational. I am hoping some of that courage will rub off on me as this will be my first jump in ten years since experiencing a canopy malfunction. I am feeling a little nervous but I think this is just the right cause to get me back up in the air again. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the rush of the freefall and then seeing the world appear through the clouds.”

Sarah will be jumping on Saturday 21st August at Dunkeswell airfield in Honiton together with her co-worker, Matt, 42, from Fishponds. The pair will be among the skydivers taking part in Hft’s Summer Plunge at various airfields across the country to raise money for the charity which supports adults with learning disabilities to live the best life possible.

Matt said:

“I’m looking forward to the fall itself but I am terrified of heights so I am most scared of initially jumping from the plane. However, knowing I am raising money for Hft hardens my resolve to do this. The charity’s work is vital and incredible at the best of times, but even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic. Support workers have gone above and beyond to keep the people they support safe during lockdown. That has motivated me to do my first ever challenge event and confronting my long-standing fear of heights felt like the way to go.”

To sponsor Sarah and Matt please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sarahconnop77 and https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mattrogers79

Anyone interested in finding out further information or signing up to take part in the event can visit www.hft.org.uk/get-involved/events/summer-plunge/