October 25 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Most teenage girls dream of a party or dinner at a swish restaurant to celebrate their 18th birthday – but Tayla Cummins wants to leap out of an aircraft to help her granddad.
Tayla, who is afraid of heights, plans to mark her big day on March 18 by jumping from 13,000ft in a tandem skydive, paid for by her mum, Jane.
Tayla will freefall for 45 seconds above Beccles, travelling at 120mph, before her parachute is deployed.
She’s hoping her derring-do will raise hundreds of pounds for Lupus UK which supports those who suffer from lupus, an incurable auto-immune condition with symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening.
Among sufferers is her granddad Bob Heading, 75, who has lived with lupus for the past 17 years.
Tayla, of Church Street, Sheringham, has also decided to donate half of any birthday money she is given to the charity.
The youngest of five brothers and sisters, she is taking a travel and tourism diploma at City College, in Norwich, and said she got the idea after watching videos of others skydiving in exotic parts of the world as part of her studies. She hopes to join the cabin crew of an airline in the future.
Mr Heading, of Holt Road, Aylmerton, was so fit that he was not even registered with a GP when he first became ill with severe bronchitis and was rushed to hospital.
Doctors could not pinpoint the cause and for a time it was thought that he might have lung cancer.
The symptoms returned a year later and this time tests revealed that he had systemic lupus erythematosus, known as SLE.
Mr Heading explained that his body’s defence system attacked itself, creating antibodies in his blood which caused painful inflammation and damage to his muscles and organs. He often suffers with swollen knee and hand joints after walking, or using tools. Other symptoms include extreme tiredness, rashes and mood swings.
“I’m very pleased that Tayla is going to perform this very brave act,” he said.
And Tayla’s mum, Jane, added: “I’m very proud of her. When I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday, I thought she might say ‘have friends round’ or ‘go to a show’. When she said ‘a skydive’, you could have knocked me down with a feather!”
Sponsor forms for Tayla’s skydive can be found at The Crown Inn, Sheringham, where she works as a waitress and where regulars have pledged to support her.
For more information on lupus, visit www.lupusuk.org.uk
■ Are you doing something unusual for charity? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org