Alan Booth takes 'leap of faith' in skydive for Whitechapel's Sick Children's Trust
PUBLISHED: 10:10 25 August 2017 | UPDATED: 18:49 25 August 2017
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A charity worker in east London faced his fear of heights and took a skydive from a plane 12,000ft up in the air.
Alan Booth shocked himself when he leapt out of the aircraft to raise money for the Sick Children’s Trust he works for at Whitechapel’s Stevenson House ‘home from home’ free accommodation centre for families with youngsters being treated at the Royal London Hospital.
“I’m so chuffed with myself for doing the skydive,” Steve said later.
“I thought I would ‘bottle’ it because it was terrifying and my mouth has never been so dry!
“The plane ride was the most terrifying 25 minutes of my life, all crammed into this tiny space. I was petrified.”
The 54-year-old from Bethnal Green has always had a fear of heights, he admits, which means he “can’t think rationally” and was in constant fear of falling out of the aircraft or out the harness plummeting to Earth.
“Nothing can prepare you for those few seconds hanging out of the open plane before you leap,” Alan recalls.
“The plane was so noisy with the instructors all shouting to each other and the engine roaring.
“But then once you jump, everything becomes so quiet like there’s nobody else apart from you.”
He was harnessed to his skydive instructor who controlled the freefall and parachute decent, with another instructor alongside videoing the whole thing with a bodycam.
“I realised when I looked at the video afterwards that I didn’t look as scared during the dive as I felt,” Alan added. “Luckily you can’t hear my screams of terror!”
The jump took six minutes to land in a field near Maidstone in Kent—but to Alan “it felt like forever”.
Alan’s ‘leap of faith’ on August 13 raised £1,320 for children’s trust and was in memory of his mum Rita who died last year. He was one of nine volunteers who raised £10,000.
“It was important to do this in her memory,” he stressed.
She had a great sense of humour and a sharp wit and would think I was crazy for doing something so outrageous.”
Alan has met many families with seriously-ill children being treated at the Royal London since joining the trust as assistant manager in 2012 and has been introduced to youngsters who have fought for their lives, recovering from illnesses or accidents.
Accommodation is provided free for their families to stay at Steven House close to the hospital.
But it costs the charity £30 a night. It relies entirely on public donations to keep its 10 centres including Stevenson House running, helping families keep together when they have a child in hospital.
Wellwishers can still add to Alan Booth’s skydive online.