Miss England semi-finalist Claire Bell from Carlisle is confronting her fear of heights in spectacular style - by jumping out of a plane.

Claire is aiming to raise £300 from tomorrow’s jump to raise money for youth suicide prevention charity Papyrus, which the Miss England competition supports.

The jump at Grange-over-Sands, with Skydive Northwest, will see Claire leap out of a plane at 15,000ft, travelling at up to 120mph.

Her best friend Katie Veitch, from Carlisle, is also taking part.

Claire said: “A skydive is something I’ve had on my bucket list but I’ve always been too scared to go through with it.

“When I was Miss Cumbria in 2016/17 it was something I thought about doing for charity but my fear of heights held me back.

“The skydive idea came about when a friend asked me in April this year if I would like to do a sponsored skydive with her.

“My instant reply was no. Just the thought of it made me feel sick and shake with fear.

“Afterwards it was on my mind that I had turned down an opportunity to tick off something on my bucket list.”

A turning point came when Claire attended an event in Cheshire where an organiser of the north west Miss England heats spoke about confidence.

Claire said: “She asked the question ‘Can we choose to be confident?’ and asked us what would we do if we had more confidence.

“My choice was a skydive. She told us about having 20 seconds of confidence where you decide you are going to move past your fear and just do the thing you want to do.

“So that’s what I’ve done. I just decided quickly that I was going to do it. I knew I would regret not taking the opportunity to do a sponsored skydive.

“To stop me changing my mind, I told her there and then that I was going to do a skydive, even though on the drive home I was shocked the words had come out of my mouth and terrified of the thought.”

Claire, who works at Caritas Care, says that as a child heights didn’t bother her, but the fear has gradually become worse.

“When I went to New York a few years ago, I went to the top of the Rockefeller Centre. I made it out of the door but I couldn’t get to the edge,” she recalled.

“I remember my fiancé James Youll went on a trip. When he came back he showed me a picture of him sat at the edge of a cliff. I felt sick at the thought that he could have fallen to his death.”

As well as facing her fear, another motivation is supporting a cause Claire believes in.

“Supporting mental health charities is something I’m passionate about, so much so that I chose to back Carlisle Eden Mind during my time as Miss Cumbria.

“I’m thrilled that Miss England are backing Papyrus this year.

“There’s so many things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I hadn’t had the confidence to enter Miss Cumbria.

“So I’ve proved to myself that doing things that scare you helps you overcome your fears. I’m hoping this skydive will do just that.”

To sponsor Claire’s skydive, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/clairebell2019

The Miss England semi-final for the north takes place at Burnley on Sunday, June 16.

Other Cumbrian contestants include Lauren Sweeney from Carlisle, who is the reigning Miss Cumbria, Megan-Jessica Curwen from Workington, who was this year’s runner-up, and Charlie Jarvis from Langwathby, who came third.

For more information visit www.missengland.info/qualifiers/semi-final-north/

The Cumbrian finalists each have their own Facebook page.

You can visit each of their pages by searching for their full name and Miss-England-Semi-Finalist-2019.