A Lancashire great granny has marked her 90th birthday in style this weekend, by jumping 15,000ft from a plane to raise money for Derian House Children’s Hospice.
Patricia Baker, of Leyland, said: “I can’t explain how it felt. Wonderful but scary,” after completing the daredevil feat at Black Knights Parachute Centre in Lancaster on Sunday morning (4.10.2020).
She was cheered on by daughter Carole and sons Michael and Stephen, and has raised almost £3,000 which will be split between the hospice and Hillside specialist school in Longridge, which supports her seven-year-old great-grandson Max.
Carole, 59, of Penwortham, said she was bursting with pride at her “inspirational” mother’s achievement.
She said: “We got lucky with the weather and had perfect blue skies. When she first got into the plane I wasn’t nervous, but as it went higher up and eventually turned into just a tiny dot I started to get butterflies. The cameraman on the ground turned to me and said ‘That’s three miles up you know,’ and I couldn’t believe it.
“When she landed it was so emotional, I was crying my eyes out. We’re all so proud of her. We’re a really close family and spend as much time as we can together so it’s been difficult with Coronavirus but mum has coped so well.
“She’s well known in the community through playing crown green bowling and has had money pushed under her door. To do this at her age has really inspired people.”
Adventurous Pat, who has six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren first came up with the idea after her friend turned 90 and told her about a “bucket list” of things she was going to do. Pat decided to do one big thing and booked a skydive.
Before she was allowed to take to the skies, she required a letter of approval from her doctor – but her GP originally refused to entertain the idea.
Not to be deterred, Pat took matters into her own hands and completed a rigorous medical test at the parachute centre, which saw her harnessed-up and suspended from the ceiling, then timed holding her legs up to see if she could land safely.
She then returned to the GP surgery armed with her results and was duly given the all-clear.
Pat took her training for the challenge seriously, doing 50 sit-ups a day and morning stretches.
“I wouldn’t have done this for myself,” said Patricia, “but I thought I’d like to do it to raise money for children. I wanted to do it for Derian House because the children there don’t get to have a full life like I’ve had and I think the work the staff do is fantastic.”
Caroline Taylor, Communications and Marketing Manager at Derian House Children’s Hospice, said: “We see some truly amazing fundraising challenges here at Derian House but what Patricia has done is simply inspirational. What a legend!
“At Derian House we look after more than 400 babies, children and young adults with life-limiting illnesses, making sure they get the very best care and have the opportunity to create precious memories with their families.
“It is only down to the generosity of supporters such as Pat that we are able to offer this service and on behalf of all of our children and their families we are truly grateful.”
You can still sponsor Pat’s skydive here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patricia-baker-90