There are quite a number of things in this life that are scary. Wrestling a tiger say, or holding your premature baby as she stops breathing in your arms, or getting that first call from the SENCO to say that your child isn’t doing as well as expected are all pretty scary. Two out of three of those have happened to me.

The problem is, of course, that these moments are not in fact an inoculation against future fear. Which is why, 10,000 feet up in the air, and suddenly not the right way up, I was petrified.

I started working at Family Fund last July, expecting to be able to make enough money to pay the bills, while still doing 'a good thing'. What I didn’t expect is to become so passionate about the work we do, and how much I would want to be part of that. Which is why, when the email came round asking people to throw themselves out of a plane, I didn’t hesitate. (The fact that I was starting to feel a bit boring since the most exciting thing I had to look forward to at that time was a cup of tea and a biscuit before the inevitable ageing and death set in is beside the point).

Then there was the waiting. My skydive got cancelled three times because of the weather. I had cheerfully decided that I probably was never actually going to have to go through with it when, to my surprise and considerable trepidation, I found myself on a field in Bridlington, being led into a room full of jumpsuits. I also had the word “banana” repeated at me far more times than I am comfortable with.

Nonetheless, jumpsuited up, I staggered out to meet my family. Hoping I wouldn’t pass out as the leg harness I was wearing would probably mean that I wouldn’t be able to stand up again! Nobody likes to see a deceptively large woman flailing around in the heat doing her best upturned beetle impression (it may or may not have taken three goes to get in the jumpsuit, this is a sore point).  

To my surprise, the plane ride was not as awful as I had imagined. By this point I was strapped to a thankfully solid man called John in four different places. And, because I had no other option; I leant back against his chest, the wind whipping around our small plane too loudly for conversation to be totally possible and enjoyed a 25 minute cuddle with a total stranger. At one point he reached his arms up, grabbed my hands in his and said “Ruby, we can do this” before giving them a quick squeeze. This was for the best as approximately two minutes earlier I had watched a man disappear into thin air, suddenly dropping from the lip of the plane. “This isn’t sensible is it?” I screamed back at John, who only laughed.

Finally I was on the dreaded ledge. And then, before I had time to really worry about it, I wasn’t. The air was freezing but I felt nothing. The ground was beautiful below me, too far away to cause alarm but close enough to make out the rolling fields underneath the billowing clouds. And I was flying. John steered me and we swooped left and right. Then something happened which I hadn’t believed would be possible, I realised that I was laughing. It was a manic, excited laugh. The laugh of someone who had spent her life dreaming of flight and finally found that it was possible. It was a laugh born of sheer exhilaration, and of knowing, absolutely knowing, that this was the best feeling in the universe.

The parachute opened after around 30 seconds (although it seems at once a lot longer and at the same time too soon) and I was delighted to find that I was allowed to steer it. Again, we swooped twisting and turning through the air until the large orange cross that indicated our landing zone loomed. We stepped, far more lightly than I’d feared, onto solid ground for the first time in just under an hour.

In one sense, my skydive has wrecked me completely because there is nothing in this world that can come close to that pure, wonderful feeling of being totally free. Of course, on the other side of the coin it has improved my life immeasurably. Once you have risen 10,000 feet in the air and chucked yourself at the planet, most problems seem surmountable. And of course, the money I raised (£506) will be going to one of the best causes that I know of.

So would I recommend a skydive? A million times, yes. I would do one again in a heartbeat. Although, now that everybody knows that I actually love it, they probably won’t be so quick to sponsor me. It’s incredible how generous people can be when you’re facing imminent splatting! It’s a memory that will last a lifetime coupled with the warm glow of doing something that will really make a difference to a family’s life. It’s crazy, as John told me later, once the ringing in my ears had stopped, it isn’t remotely sensible but, more than anything else, it’s like so many dreams coming true all at once.

So what are you waiting for? I’ll see you on the airfield. Or, quite frankly, preferably above it. 

Find out more about our skydives throughout the UK.