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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Cumbrian woman sheds five stones for charity skydive

A woman has lost five stones so she can plunge from the skies today to raise money for a cause close to her heart.

Jackie Blacklock wanted to celebrate her 50th birthday in style and decided to take part in a tandem skydive, with the added benefit of stacking up the cash for the Give Us A Break 2010 fund at the same time.

Jackie is a director of the charity which is aiming to raise £1m to build a short break centre in west Cumbria for disabled children, and she knows firsthand just how much local families need the facility as her twin step-grandsons, Callan and Ethan, are both disabled.

She decided to take on her own personal fundraising challenge and dropped from 20 stones to 15 to be able to take part in the skydive.

It’s thanks to a local diet class that she managed to lose the weight, and she is determined to carry on with her healthy ways.

“I’ve done a few diets in the past, including Lighterlife which was great, but I didn’t stick with it and put the weight back on,” said Jackie, who lives at Hillcrest in Whitehaven.

“I needed to lose weight as my health was starting to suffer, so last September I started Slimming World and gave myself a target to reach to be able to do the jump.”

And determined Jackie will see all of her hard work pay off this afternoon as she skydives at Carc airfield, near Flookbrough.

Speaking about falling around 15,000ft, she said: “I’ve been really excited and looking forward to it but I’m getting a bit nervous the closer it gets.

“There are going to be two difficult steps – getting out of the plane and landing, but the part in between I’m just going to enjoy.”

The Give Us A Break group want to purchase 10 acres of land in the area to build the centre and are appealing for any landowners which can donate a suitable site to contact them.

“We want polytunnels, duck ponds and chickens laying eggs to be able to give the children a little bit of independence and accomplishment,” explained Jackie.

But they need to raise £1.3m to see the dream come true, and so far have got just £160,000. They have thousands of pounds pledged, as well as a mini-bus, but this money can only be used once the land is acquired.

But the sad fact of the tale is that it could take up to 10 years before building work begins, which Jackie said the committee do not want to see happen.

So once again, they are pushing their charity drive to the limit and appealing for people to get behind them.

Jackie said that there are more than 2,000 youngsters between the age of three and 19 with special educational needs, and out of those just 167 – eight per cent – had overnight stays last year.

“People don’t realise how big an issue it is in Cumbria,” she added. “This facility is desperately needed and we have various ways that people can help.”

To sponsor Jackie visit www.givey.com/jackieblacklock1. To donate to the Give Us A Break appeal visit www.giveusabreak2010.org.

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