Breckland Council chairman Kate Millbank preparing for skydive in friend’s memory despite being scared of heights
- Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Ph
The chairman of Breckland Council Kate Millbank is preparing for a skydive in memory of a close friend, despite being scared of heights.
The skydive on July 17 will be the latest challenge the councillor has taken part in to support the charity Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis, having previously completed the gruelling 12-mile Tough Mudder course in May.
But the skydive is likely to be her biggest test as she will be taking on her two biggest fears, flying and heights.
'This is about the most frightening thing I could think of doing but I am doing it so I can raise not only money but also awareness of this dreadful disease,' she said.
Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis charity has held a special relevance to Ms Millbank since she lost a close friend to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) last year.
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She said: 'I'm supporting this charity in memory of a very dear friend called Phyllis who was diagnosed with pulmonary idiopathic fibrosis and died this time last year - less than two years later after being diagnosed. She had been waiting for a lung transplant which is currently the only possible treatment.
'Watching my feisty, redheaded Irish friend wither away before my eyes was dreadful, I can only imagine what her family went through. She was a beautiful woman but at the end she was a mere shadow, it was terrible.'
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Pulmonary fibrosis is the formation of scar tissue within a person's lungs which makes it hard for oxygen to pass to the body. The most common form is IPF and there are around 5,000 new cases of it each year.
That number has been increasing in the UK, the USA and Europe but there has not been enough research into the disease to understand why.
On average, an individual with IPF has a life expectancy of three to four years.
Ms Millbank hopes that raising awareness and supporting the charity will contribute to the resources needed for there to one day be a cure.
'Everyone is frightened of getting cancer but the prognosis for most cancers these days is good because there has been so many advances in treating it. IPF is, in comparison, virtually unheard of, and yet it kills more people each year than leukaemia and many other forms of cancer. It really is a horrid way to die, a slow, painful and frightening disease.'
You can donate to Ms Millbank's fundraising by going to her Just Giving page.