Alan Booth, a charity worker from East London, decided to face his fears and jump from a plane for Whitechapel’s Sick Children’s Trust.
After flying 12,000 feet in the air, Booth was surprised he actually had the nerve to go through it.
“I’m so chuffed with myself for doing the skydive,” Booth said. “I thought I would ‘bottle’ it because it was terrifying and my mouth has never been so dry! The plane ride was the most terrifying 25 minutes of my life, all crammed into this tiny space. I was petrified.”
Booth took the challenge to raise funds for the Sick Children’s Trust at Whitechapel’s Stevenson House. The facility offers free accommodations for families of patients at Royal London Hospital.
The mission of the trust is to provide every family with a seriously ill child in the hospital with accommodation so they can stay together during difficult treatment.
Booth, 54, said he has always had a fear of heights.
“Nothing can prepare you for those few seconds hanging out of the open plane before you leap,” Booth said. “The plane was so noisy with the instructors all shouting to each other and the engine roaring. But then once you jump, everything becomes so quiet like there’s nobody else apart from you.”
Booth was secured to his skydive instructor who guided the freefall and parachute descent. Another parachutist recorded the adventure on video with the aid of a bodycam.
“I realized when I looked at the video afterwards that I didn’t look as scared during the dive as I felt,” Booth said. “Luckily you can’t hear my screams of terror!”
The jump only lasted six minutes, but for Booth “it felt like forever.” The three men landed in a field near Maidstone in Kent.
His feat raised £1,320 for the children’s trust. He dedicated the jump to his mother, Rita, who died last year. The total amount raised by the nine volunteers was £10,000.
“It was important to do this in her memory,” Booth said. “She had a great sense of humor and a sharp wit and would think I was crazy for doing something so outrageous.”
Booth has had the chance to meet many of the families of patients at the Royal London since he became an assistant manager in 2012. Steven House provides free accommodation so families can be close to their loved ones in the hospital.
The charity spends £30 per person per night. Public donations fund its ten centers, in which families stay during treatment.
“Had it not been for Guilford Street House and The Sick Children’s Trust, we would have had to leave Hayden in his most vulnerable state, when he needed us most, after he had just had major open-heart surgery. The thought of doing that is painful even now, if we’d had to have done it, it would’ve been unbearable,” said the Wilson family, who stayed at the Guilford Street House, while their son Hayden was in the hospital.