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Brenda MacDonald and Carly McConnachie are doing sponsored skydives to raise funds for an operation for Chloe O’Hare to help improve her quality of life

By Garry McCartney

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Carly and Gavin McConnachie, Chloe O’Hare, Gavin’s son Cameron and Brenda Macdonald, with their dogs Poppy and Gucci.
Carly and Gavin McConnachie, Chloe O’Hare, Gavin’s son Cameron and Brenda Macdonald, with their dogs Poppy and Gucci.

A MOTHER and daughter are going to free-fall from 10,000ft for a personal cause that is close to their hearts.

Brenda MacDonald (58), from Thornhill, and Carly McConnachie (29), from Anderson Crescent, are doing tandem skydives above Fife Airport to raise funds for a woman who has become part of their family over the last 20 months.

Brenda’s son Gavin McConnachie (34) met Chloe O’Hare (29) in February 2019.

He said: “We met online at the start of the pandemic so we didn’t meet face-to-face until after the first lockdown last June. But we’ve seen each other every weekend since and moved in together in New Elgin on January 1.”

Chloe has Spastic Quadriplegia, a form of cerebral palsy that affects the limbs, causing jerky movements stemming from high muscle tone and stiffness of the arms and legs. This makes her unable to bear weight.

A selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is a neurosurgical procedure that destroys problematic nerve roots in the spinal cord. The surgery relieves negative symptoms of neuromuscular conditions. The sensory nerves inducing spasticity are identified using electromyographic (EMG) stimulation. Abnormal nerve responses are isolated and cut, thereby reducing symptoms of spasticity.

Brenda said: “The operation has been performed in England and the US. Chloe was assessed for the procedure at Liverpool Walton Centre but it’s not an NHS Scotland-recognised operation.

"The money we raise from our sponsored skydive will go towards paying for a private operation then assisting with Chloe’s rehabilitation, physiotherapy and equipment. Hopefully then, in time, she will be able to walk with an aid.”

Gavin feels honoured by his mum and sister’s brave gesture.

He said: “I’m privileged to be related to folk willing to jump out of a plane to help! I love Chloe and this operation will help improve her quality of life.

"Being able to walk will give Chloe her freedom, less pain and it will be easier for her to do day-to-day things.”

Chloe added: “It will take time after the operation to get to where I can do things for myself. Right now, my focus other than fundraising, is to get strong enough so my body can recover quickly after the operation.”

Brenda has previous fundraising experience for charities, including a static line parachute jump, abseiling down Raigmore Hospital chimney and zip-wiring across the River Ness.

Young Carly is a little less experienced, but did some parasailing 16 years ago.

The pair will attend Skydive St Andrews on Saturday, October 30. Each will be attached to an instructor for around 30 seconds of free-fall – diving at up to 120mph – before the parachutes are deployed at around 5000ft.

Brenda said: “I’m dreading sitting on the edge of the plane waiting to jump and then, worse, the parachute not opening on my descent! But I’m also very much looking forward to free falling through the sky.”

Carly added: “I can’t wait for the adrenaline rush. Jumping out of the plane, falling then the relief when the parachute opens and I’m gliding through the air. I’m not feeling too worried but I’ll be nervous on the day. Thankfully we’ve been told there’ll be back up chutes!”

Brenda and Carly hope to raise £20,000.

Please sponsor them at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/skydiving-brenda-macdonald

or at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/carly-mcconnachie-1?utm_term=3RapJxQxj

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