A mum and daughter are taking a leap of faith with skydive from 10,000 feet in aid of a dementia charity that’s close to their hearts.
Mum-of-three and grandmother-of-10 Paula Simpson, 56, a senior care practitioner at the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham and her eldest daughter, Carla Griffiths, 37, will raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
According to Paul, she was determined to jump into action because her beloved mum, Ann Evans, has dementia.
Poignantly, she is now a resident at the Hillbury care home which is part of Pendine Park where Paula works, as does granddaughter Leah, 19.
She said: “It really has been a tough few years. We lost my dad in June 2019 and mum slowly deteriorated following that. I am also looking after my husband, Paul, who can no longer work after a double stroke, so you could say that I am a full time carer in more ways than one.”
“It’s been hard but we are getting through and I have had so much support from my colleagues at work throughout all the bad times. They have been my salvation, so understanding and helping to keep me strong.
“In one way doing the sky dive is about keeping my strength up and giving me something else to focus on other than our own troubles.
“If I am feeling down I always think to myself that there is someone else worse off. So, if we can raise much needed funds to help others facing crises then it will be well worth it.”
Paula has set an initial fund-raising target of £450 but is hoping they may be able to raise more than that.
She said: “I know money is tight these days and people are facing ever increasing costs which is why I am asking that they give as little or as much as they can afford. Even a sponsorship of £1 works for me. Every donation no matter how small adds to the overall target which is to boost research into dementia.”
It was daughter Carla who booked their sky dive at a top-flight centre in Whitchurch.
Paula said: “It came as a complete surprise to me. She just turned up one day and said ‘right mum I’ve booked us both on a sky dive’. I couldn’t believe it, but I immediately said, yes let’s do it.”
“I decided there and then that I had to be 100 per cent positive. I thought I’m getting too old to say no to these sorts of adventures, if I don’t do it now I never will.
“It’s completely crazy. Neither of us can even drive but we’re determined we’re going to jump out of that plane and raise as much as we can for a good cause.”
The intrepid pair have never done anything so challenging before but they both say they are exhilarated by the thought and now cannot wait for the big day to arrive.
Paula added: “As mum’s condition worsened it became impossible to keep her safe at home so we took the decision that she should go to Hillbury. The team there are so good with her, and I get to see her as often as possible.
“I think having been a carer myself has helped me better understand mum’s condition, but it is still hard no matter how much experience you have in the sector, having a loved one succumb to dementia is always a heart-breaking and distressing experience.
“That is why we wanted to do something to contribute to the efforts to boost research. The more knowledge there is the sooner we will be able to find more effective treatments.”
Paula and Carla are hoping some family members may be able to make it to the airfield to watch them sky dive.
She said: “We don’t know exactly who will be able to get there yet, but I’m sure some family and friends are hoping to make it on the day.”
Because they don’t drive the twosome are aiming to stay at a hotel overnight local to Whitchurch in readiness to be at the airfield at their appointed time of 8.30am.
“It’s an early start but we’re determined to enjoy every minute of it,” said Paula, who lives in Gwersyllt.
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: “I take my hat off to Paula and Carla for channelling their inner daredevil to raise money for this important dementia charity.
“It is a cause close to all our hearts at Pendine but it’s particularly poignant for Paula because her mum has dementia and is a resident of our Hillbury care home.
“We wish them all the very best with the skydive and the fundraising.”