A daring dad and his daughters are to jump out of a plane next spring on a sponsored tandem skydive in memory of their wife and mum.
Rupert ‘Yogi’ Powell and daughters Sophie, 24, and Holly, 25, will leap 10,000ft as Team Maggie to say thank you to The Hospice of St Francis, where MacMillan nurse Maggie Powell, 47, spent the last month of her life in August last year.
“We just wanted to do something to say thank you and raise money for the hospice so that other people can benefit from the same amazing care that Maggie had,” explained 48-year-old carpenter Yogi, from Warners End, Hemel Hempstead.
“I honestly can’t praise the hospice enough. They were just amazing. I lived there for a month at Maggie’s side and there’s not a single thing you could improve.
“The hospice has many excellent facilities including jacuzzi baths, complimentary therapies and beautiful grounds.
“All the staff were so very kind to us as family.
“I’d always heard it was a great hospice but it’s not until you need it, that you realise what a special place it is.”
It was while the 6ft 2’ former soldier was registering his interest in next year’s Mud Pack Challenge, after a knee injury ruled him out of this year’s event, that he spotted the skydive challenge on the hospice’s website.
“I thought what a great thing to do with the girls,” he says, explaining how shortly after Maggie’s death, he and Holly, a teacher, and Sophie, an analyst, took part in the London Moonwalk – walking 26 miles through the night, raising £4,700 for breast cancer charities.
“We’ve always been a very close family but the experience brought us even closer together,” he says.
“The camaraderie doing the training was great and it was so nice to do something so positive together.
“The hospice skydive really appealed to me because it was a new type of challenge that this time tested our nerve rather than our physical endurance, but the girls have never done anything like it before so when I first asked them, they wanted 24 hours to think about it.
“They didn’t need any persuading though. They came straight back, saying we had to do it.”
Yogi admits that one of the advantages of the charity jump was that he didn’t think he’d have to do any training - until he saw that the weight limit was 15 stone.
“I’m 15-and-a-half stone,” he says, “but I’ve been cutting out the beers and the bacon sarnies, exercising more, and the pounds have been falling off me. When there’s a reason so close to your heart for doing it, it’s no real hardship.”
Yogi, Holly and Sophie have set up their Just Giving page here and are nervously waiting for the big day.
“It’s going to be such a great experience and one we’ll always remember.
“Daunting as this challenge may be we are determined, as a team, to conquer our fears and to raise as much money as we can for the hospice.
“Maggie was a very special, beautiful, person – always interested in living life to the max, making everything into an adventure and creating wonderful memories which we treasure deeply.
“We were married for 25 years and even though she’s gone, I still feel like the luckiest man in the world to have had her.
“I know she’d be proud, especially of her girls and we’re so proud to be doing it in her name as Team Maggie.”
If you’re feeling as daring as Team Maggie and would like to take to the skies to help the hospice raise 20 per cent of the £4.8m it needs every year, there are 11 spaces available for the tandem jump on Sunday, March 20 2016 at Hinton Airfield in Brackley, near Milton Keynes.
For anyone who signs up by Friday, December 18, there’s a special discount of £10 off the £50 registration fee. An additional minimum sponsorship of £350 is required, £200 of which goes towards the skydive.
Anyone over 16, weighing less than 15 stone can participate but some medical restrictions may apply.
To find out more, please visit the event pages at www.stfrancis.org.uk
For an application form, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01442 869555.