Follow Gillian’s lead for RNIB

Gillian and her instructor
Gillian and her instructor

Gillian Kennedy from Ballycastle is encouraging local people to sign up for the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s Big Jump charity skydive on September 21 after receiving support from their Children, Young People and Families service.

Gillian’s two oldest children, Rebecca (aged 10) and Ben (9) both have low vision due to Optic Atrophy.

Gillian took the leap herself last year after receiving advice and support from the charity’s Children, Young People and Families Service and is now encouraging others to take the opportunity for an unforgettable experience this year.

Gillian said: “I’d always wanted to skydive but was never brave enough. When Ben’s eyesight took a big fall two years ago, the consultant gave us an RNIB leaflet of services which might be available to us. I got in touch with RNIB and we ended up going on one of their Family Weekends. It was amazing being able to meet and talk with other families in a similar situation, to share any concerns, and get tips and advice on things like getting the best support in school.

“The kids have also taken part in other activities such as a go karting day. It gives them the freedom to try new things in a safe way and for us to relax when we know everyone’s in the same boat and the staff have everything in hand.

“I wanted to give something back so when I heard about the skydive I thought, right this is the time, I’m going to go for it.

“For anyone considering doing it, I would definitely say ‘go for it!’ It’s such a whirlwind of emotions. I remember my heart beating on the way up in the plane and sitting there ready to jump. I was nervous, I was scared, excited. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a bird, that’s the closest you’re going to get.

“And people were so generous in the fundraising. I raised around £1400 just through my justgiving page and the generosity of friends, family and customers of our business, Kennedy Hydraulics. I put a poster on the back of Ian’s work van and some customers even gave us £100! I was overwhelmed and so thankful to raise such a sum to a charity so close to our hearts.”

Hazel Stirling, Area Fundraising Manager said: “By taking part in the 2019 Big Jump you’ll be part of a team of RNIB skydivers taking to the skies over the same weekend and making the leap to support people with sight loss.

“Whether you’re blind, partially sighted, or sighted all our RNIB skydivers support each other and face their fears together. Everyone will jump with a trained instructor which means no one will go it alone, and together, we can help smash through the barriers that stop people with sight loss thriving.” To find out more visit rnib.org.uk/TheBigJump