Skydiving - to many a dream come true, to me, my worst nightmare.
Nevertheless, I have somehow agreed to hurl myself out of an airplane at 13,000 feet, strapped to a "hunky" (???) Red Devil.
The plan is to go up in one of those small, really unsafe and draughty looking planes, hover, think of England and the Queen, and then jump.
There will then be a freefall for 45 seconds, during which my heart will probably stop. Then (and this is the crux of my anxiety) the Hunky Devil will pull on a short piece of line, which may or may not open a large piece of nylon (apparently called "canopy"), which should transform the freefall into a gentle glide. If it doesn't open I am assured that there is a spare "reserve" canopy. I am worried what happens if that doesn't open either.
Anyway, assuming all goes well (...), I will then be able to enjoy a 6 minute glide with the Hunky Devil, during which my heart might recommence activity, allowing me to enjoy the beautiful Wiltshire countryside.
During my years' sailing with the JST, I have seen hundreds of people, young and old, conquer their own fears and others' stereotypes of what they can achieve. I have climbed the masts of the tall ships Lord Nelson and Tenacious with the blind, the deaf, the legless, the armless, OHPs, and really hunky Italian 20-something lads who were so scared of hights, they cried all the way. Even wheelchair users come up to the first platform every single voyage.
So I guess after years of showing off up the mast, it is my turn to conquer my very own, very real personal fear. I'll be doing it for all the really brave and wonderful friends I have made on the ships over the years. Friends who have overcome disability. Carers who sailed with a disabled friend even though they were terribly seasick and scared of water. 16 year olds away from home for the first time, who learned to respect their own bodies and discover what it's like to take responsibility for others. Those in their 70s, 80s and even 90s, who climbed on yards to stow away sails, and showed me that we don't need to be scared of growing old. And for the wonderful crew of the two ships, who have welcomed me into their "family" with open arms from the moment I first stepped on board.
Please support me in my venture, in recognition of all the above, by donating as much as you can. Every penny will go to the JST, to further its quest to change lives forever.
Julia Schaefer - Bosun's Mate with JST
To support Julia, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/JulesSchaefer