Explore spend a lot of time looking at Responsible Tourism and supporting charities in the UK and around the world. The ethos and practice of the company is also for individuals here, at Nelson House, to do something as well. Usually there is someone raising money for charity and this month has been no exception.
Some people that impressed me (because I can't stand heights) however, were my colleagues who jumped out of an aeroplane to raise money for the Mufinidi Orphange in Tanzania.
Debbie and Michelle
Our Commerical Assistant in Marketing, Michelle takes up the story:
I have done a lot of crazy things for charity; eaten 23 bowls of jelly with chopsticks, tried (unsuccessfully) to remain silent for 24 hours and stupidly starved myself for 2 days. This one beats the lot; jumping out of a plane at 12â€™200ft strapped to a man with a parachute that is supposed to open after freefalling for 47 seconds.
When my colleague James suggested that we should do a â€˜Exploreâ€™ jump for charity I felt a little apprehensive, it probably wasnâ€™t the best idea for someone who hated flying and was scared of heights. However, James, Debbie and myself signed up and blocked it from our minds until the day of the jump: Sunday 15th April.
The charity we chose to support was the Mufindi Orphanage in Tanzania, an organisation that we all work with and is close to our hearts; we wanted to raise as much money as possible. So as well as the jump we had a couple of greedy cake sales, which unleashed Debbieâ€™s very scrumptious mountain of chocolate, meaning we were all rather worried about the weight limit and the speed at which we may fall!
By the time the weekend arrived we had an additional 5 jumperâ€™s: Fiona, Martin, Kat, Peter and Mirjan! They had all decided to jump for fun and were colleagues from Explore, except Martin who is Fionaâ€™s husband.
The Skydiving Team
In traditional Explore fashion we headed to Norfolk the night before and set up camp on the airfield. After a smoky BBQ of sausages and burgers it started to get very cold and cover was taken in one of the two pubs they had in Old Buckenham; The Game Keeper. At this point Debbie and myself felt rather jubilant that we had taken the decision to book ourselves into a warm and cosy B&B! In fact, we were probably annoyingly smug about it! Even more so when the campers had to walk 2 miles â€˜homeâ€™ in the cold with their fading gas lamp.
We woke up on Sunday 15th April feeling a little pensive. The cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs eased the butterflies in our stomachs slightly, but they soon returned as we drove up the very long, thin road to the airfield. We met the rest of the Explore clan and signed a number of forms, all of which informed us that we were about to partake in a high-risk activity, which could be dangerous and sometimes fatal. And then we sat, and waited excitedlyâ€¦ Debbie still smiling.
It wasnâ€™t until Fiona and Martin were in their jump suits and heading towards the propeller plane that the concept of what we were doing became very real. It became even more real when the plane had taken off and after 15 minutes had become a very tiny dot in the sky! And then next to the tiny dot appeared a few even tinier onesâ€¦. they had jumped!! We laid on the grass counting the seconds and watching the dots get bigger and biggerâ€¦. then the parachutes opened and we all felt a little more assured that we were going to live through the experience.
Next, Kat and James headed off in the planeâ€¦. James looked exhilarated when he landed; his eyes were wider than I have ever seen them!
The moment had arrived for Debbie and myself to get briefed and suited up. We were still smiling but it may have been a little forcedâ€¦.everything had suddenly become quite serious.
The suits were boiling and very unflattering!! But a necessity apparently! So I reluctantly squeezed into mine and got tugged around as they fitted my harness and cut off the circulation to my legs, much to everyone elseâ€™s amusement. We signed another form and were carted into the plane.
The plane was not good for someone with Aviophobia! However, I was so nervous and excited about the jump that I had no room to think about it! Debbie was sat at the other end of the plane, still smiling! My instructor was sat behind me, asking questions about my job, my house, my life etc etcâ€¦. all of which had become very irrelevant!
Then came the 2-minute call. Everything suddenly happened very quickly; hats fastened, gloves on, harness attached by a mere 4 cord, and then everyone stood up. Jason, my instructor, must have been a strong guy because I was literally hanging off him. It was also at this point that I first got to look out of the window and appreciate how high we were, and when I turned back around I found the door was open and people were jumping out of the plane! It was very surreal. So surreal that my anxiety disappeared and I was totally lost in the moment, hanging out of the plane waiting to jump! Then off we went!
The first 3 seconds were a blur as we nose-dived into the skyâ€¦ then we levelled out and fell at 120mph! It was exhilarating! We dropped 7,200ft in 47 seconds. The parachute opened at 5,000ft and we drifted down to ground at a much slower pace. Unfortunately my landing wasnâ€™t as graceful!
We all lived to tell the tale, and celebrated with a bottle of bubbly! But most importantly we hope to have raised Â£1000 for the Mufindi Orphanage in Tanzania, which will help a tremendous amount and make at least one person's life a little bit better.
Not bad for a day's work.