A mother and son searching for an innovative way to celebrate their landmark birthdays have taken to the skies and raised £2,500 in a charity skydive for Help for Heroes.
Ballyduff birthday girl Naomi McLean and son Corey decided to do ‘something big’ to mark their fortieth and eighteenth birthdays, as well as raising money for the Armed Forces charity.
Help for Heroes supports wounded servicemen and women and their families through rehabilitation and practical aid.
Naomi, a Support worker at the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, explained: “I have a brother who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq and he came home in one piece each time.
“I’m 40 next month and my son has recently turned 18 so we thought we would do something big for our birthdays and raise money for charity. We wanted to do something that we’re always going to remember.”
Naomi says that she originally wanted to go up in a hot air balloon, but this proved “too hard to organise in Northern Ireland, and a sky dive was the next best thing.”
Plucky Naomi says that far from being nervous, it was she who talked teenage son Corey into the daring leap at Garvagh’s Wild Geese parachute centre. She continued: “He was more apprehensive about it. His girlfriend Amy-Leigh also jumped with us and raised £100 for MENCAP.
Despite being nervous on the day of the tandem dive, Naomi revealed that the group drew strength from the cause they were supporting. She explained: “I said to them to think of the men and women who go away to war and don’t come back, or who come back with limbs missing. What we’re doing is nothing compared to them.”
While the journey up in the plane was nerve-wracking, the descent was exhilarating: ‘It was amazing, absolutely amazing’ said Naomi.
“When you first get out of the plane there’s the shock as the wind hits you for a few second, but then you adjust.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling and you can see everything-Portrush, the Sperrin mountains, Donegal. The instructors who were with us were amazing-they told us where everything was and what we were doing.”
So far, the pair have raised £2,500 for Help for Heroes, and collection buckets will remain at Asher’s Bakery in Carnmoney and in Belfast Meat Centre until Naomi’s birthday on August 25.
Asked to sum up her experience, Naomi concluded: “I would highly recommend it!”