When Stephen Bestwick was gifted a skydive experience, he chose to turn it into a fundraising opportunity in support of his wife. With over £2,700 raised for the PHA UK, and unforgettable memories made, he told us it’s an experience he will treasure.
You can read his story below. And in this video, we hear from Stephen and Julie about their fundraising journey and why they felt it was so important to support our charity.
“A skydive is something I’d been wanting to do for many years, but never got around to it. So I was so grateful to everyone at my company, BPW in Leicester, for donating the jump as my retirement present.
I wanted to use the opportunity to say thank you to the PHA UK and give something back. I contacted friends, family, and old work customers [for sponsorship] and so many then asked about PH and Julie’s circumstances. It’s been important for me to thank every single person that donated.
It’s been a fantastic and humbling experience. When we wrote details on our Just Giving page, about PH and the charity, I think people donating recognised that were raising funds for a charity that really needed the support. That’s been one of the greatest rewards from doing this; that more people now understand PH.
The jump was exhilarating and something I will never forget. I was the second person out of the plane and had to sit in the doorway with my legs tucked under, before rolling out with the instructor.
Suddenly we were in freefall, and all I could feel was the wind whistling around me. Then we dropped through the cloud barrier and my instructor deployed the parachute and suddenly everything became very quiet.
I had the opportunity to fly the parachute and do some maneuvers and it was a very gentle landing. I collected my certificate and was so proud; it really was a fantastic day.
I think the biggest thing has been being able to give back and say thank you to the PHA UK for their support, because there were very dark days back in 2020 [when Julie was diagnosed with PH]. But the charity provided light, and we just knew they were there, so it was an easy decision to do this fundraising for them.”
Julie helped Stephen with the fundraising and supported him through the challenge. She said:
“We started with an initial target of raising £500 but very quickly we saw that would be reached — so we raised it to £1,400 and then again to £2,000. I just feel that it’s been so good for people to donate so much during these times, and to also take the time to find out more about PH.
Stephen eventually managed to do the skydive on 31st August, which was the fourth attempt [as it kept getting cancelled due to bad weather]. Even though there were a lot of clouds high in the sky, it was the perfect day. We went with friends, and it was fantastic to watch as spectators.
I am so proud of Stephen and how much has been raised for the PHA UK. When I was diagnosed in 2020, I was lost. I didn’t know what PH was; but the information they provided, and the stories of others they shared, has all been so encouraging. It made me realise that it’s not all black. I’m thankful for everything they have done, and to everyone who has supported them by sponsoring Stephen.”