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Brenda MacDonald and Carly McConnachie from Forres complete 10,000ft sponsored skydive at Skydive St Andrews

By Garry McCartney

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Brenda, Gavin, Carly and Chloe at Skydive St Andrews.
Brenda, Gavin, Carly and Chloe at Skydive St Andrews.

A MOTHER and daughter from Forres jumped out of a plane near Glenrothes, free-falling from 10,000ft to raise money for an operation.

Brenda MacDonald and Carly McConnachie did the sponsored skydive in aid of a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) for a new member of their family at Skydive St Andrews, despite nearly having to cancel due to adverse weather conditions.

Brenda explained the SDR - a neurosurgical procedure that relieves neuromuscular conditions - is for her son Gavin’s girlfriend Chloe O’Hare, who has Spastic Quadriplegia, a form of cerebral palsy that makes her unable to bear weight.

Brenda said: “It was pouring until about 10am on the day so the jump was postponed until midday. It was still raining and cloudy at 12pm so they said they would make a final decision at 2pm. The sky was cleared and it was sunny so we went up at 3.30pm.”

It took around 25 minutes for the plane to reach the required height for the tandem skydive with instructors.

Brenda shuffling to the edge as Carly waits for her turn to jump.
Brenda shuffling to the edge as Carly waits for her turn to jump.

“We sat on the instructor’s laps and were shuffled to the edge one at a time,” said Brenda. “You just have to go over when they do, there’s no chance to stop! At the edge you put your head back and cross your arms with your feet right back. The instructor then falls forward with you for a 30-second free-fall.”

Parachutes are deployed at around 5000ft. Carly though the experience was “exhilarating”.

She said: “You literally fall through the clouds at 120mph ... I loved it! A cameraman descends with you taking pictures before the parachutes are deployed. I asked my instructor to do spirals after that!”

Brenda added: “You can only see clouds at first and you’re not aware of how fast you are falling despite the air whooshing past. However, there’s silence with the parachute which yanks you back up into the air. It’s very still then and you can make out the land below.”

Brenda enjoying her 10,000ft freefall over Fife.
Brenda enjoying her 10,000ft freefall over Fife.

Brenda landed on her feet and Carly landed on her backside according to their instructors’ differing landing techniques but both were safe and unhurt.

“We hugged as soon as Carly landed just after me,” said Brenda. “We were both on such a high!”

“We would both do it again,” added Carly. “We recommend it. It’s one of the best experiences we’ve ever had!”

The pair have raised £2530 of a £3000 target so far at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/skydiving-brenda-macdonald and https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/carly-mcconnachie-1?utm_term=3RapJxQxj

Chloe was assessed for the SDR procedure at Liverpool Walton Centre but as a non-NHS Scotland-recognised operation, she needs to raise around £20,000 for the op’ and rehabilitation. Gavin and Chloe hope they can raise the funds to make her quality of life better through being able to walk and feeling less pain.

Gavin said: “Mum and Chloe were so brave - what they did was amazing!”

Chloe added: “We never expected the level of support we’ve had from everyone. We are very grateful.”

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