A daredevil overcame adversity to realise her dream of completing a skydive – with help from two trusted carers.
Avril Hardman has cerebral palsy and learning difficulties, but after 18 long months of determined planning, she achieved her ambition of leaping out of a plane from 15,000 feet.
Avril, 39, managed the feat with the help of staff members from Edgar Street residential home, Katie Barnes and Debbie Lentell, and the experience reduced her to tears of joy.
Care home manager Katie said: “It was absolutely fantastic – I’d definitely do it again. For me, it was exhilarating being able to watch Avril realise her dream.
“We watched the DVD and she was crying, saying it was so fantastic. She thanks me every day whenever I see her!”
The idea came about after Avril wanted to do something special to celebrate her upcoming 40th birthday.
Katie said: “We talked a couple of years ago about doing something for our milestone birthdays, as I’ve just turned 30, and Avril said she’d love to jump out of a plane.
"The risks were massive and I had to get her family’s permission. Also, it’s really expensive – we each paid £340 to do the jump.”
Debbie, a support worker at the Huncoat home, was also marking her 40th birthday.
The trio – each diving separately with their own instructor – jumped from a height of nearly three miles up after travelling to Lancaster for the challenge.
Katie, who jumped last and thus saw Avril and Debbie land before her, said: “It’s quite scary, getting ready and sitting on the plane.
"All I could see out of the windows was just grass and water – we couldn’t make most things out, but we did get a good view of Blackpool Tower.
“I could see the pair below me and I kept asking my instructor if they were both alive and walking.
"But he was really good and reassuring, telling me they were okay.”
Avril had to be checked out by her GP before being able to jump.
She also had to perform physical tests for the skydiving company, to make sure she could lift her legs in a particular position, and to check she could understand and respond to her instructor’s directions.
Katie said that her determination to complete the jump was a major factor in her being allowed to do it.
On top of her achievement, Avril raised £156 for the Sense charity shop, in Accrington, where she volunteers a couple of days a week.
Debbie was also raising money for a family member battling cancer.