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FirstPort colleagues jump into festive season to raise over £4,000 for charity skydive

A group of FirstPort Retirement colleagues have been dashing through the sky this month for a Santa skydive in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). 

The daring group donned Santa suits ahead of their skydives and, collectively, they have so far raised over £4,000 for GOSH, which is FirstPort’s sponsored charity. 

FirstPort Development Manager Linsey Ballinger said it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for a charity close to her heart.

Linsey said:

“When I signed up, I didn’t actually read that we had to wear Santa costumes. When I was asked what size costume I needed, I was like ‘oh, that’s a shock!’. But it made the experience even better, it was such a laugh and for such a fantastic cause.

“Having a young daughter, I can’t even begin to imagine what the young children and families at GOSH go through. And especially at this time of year when children deserve to be enjoying Christmas. I’m really happy to have been able to support them.”

Sharon said the residents at the FirstPort independent-living retirement development she manages thought she was “completely mad” to do a skydive. She added:

I did a sky dive about 15 years ago and it was amazing to do it all over again for a wonderful charity.

The tandem skydives, which are arranged through GOSH from Hinton Airfield in Northamptonshire, involved jumping 12,000ft from an aeroplane.

Sharon said:

“GOSH do such amazing things for sick children and as a grandmother I would want the best care possible if ever my grandchildren were seriously ill.

“I have raised about £800, and my residents have been so supportive and sponsored me, which is amazing.”

Julia French said she never thought she would be able to do a skydive. She explained:

“I thought, as I am 66 now, I will probably not get another chance and would regret it if I didn’t.

“My residents, as well as friends and family have been so supportive – both in encouraging me and sponsoring me – and they have helped me to raise so far just under £1,100. So, even if I’d have wanted to, I couldn’t drop out!

GOSH is such a wonderful charity to support and I think the tremendous work they do for these sick children is so worthwhile.

Development Manager Sandra Rodrigues celebrated her birthday shortly before the skydive so felt it was a great way to mark the occasion while also raising money to help others. 

Sandra explained:

“One of my residents’ sons was a patient at Great Ormond Street Ormond Street and to quote him ‘he has first-hand experience of the dedication and brilliant work undertaken by the people there’.

“It’s a wonderful cause and I’m so grateful to the residents, my friends and family for donating to support GOSH.”

Retirement Property Manager Brandon O’Connell has had his skydive moved to January after bad weather has twice prevented it from going ahead. Brandon has managed to raise over £600 for this GOSH fundraising event and said the good cause will help to “give me the nudge out of the plane that I need”.

He added:

“I have flown a plane, completed a loop in a plane, and other various aerobatic manoeuvres that make the stomach churn, but I have never jumped out of one, so I am really excited to have the opportunity to skydive and represent the Retirement London & Southeast team for GOSH.

“It’s for an amazing cause, and one that I have had lots of involvement with over the past six months. Being able to challenge my nerve is always fun and it’s a day away from the kids, what more can I say!”

If you would like to donate or find out more about the charity skydive, please go to: