Wiltshire-based Grandma, Helen Plummer, has jumped 14,000 feet from a plane to raise nearly £900 for Julia's House children's hospice.
We care for Helen’s granddaughter Ellie Humphries, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was just six months old.
After several operations, the four-year-old’s tumour is now stable and her family hopes she will start mainstream school next year. However, due to the tumour and a subsequent stroke, Ellie can’t walk and is just learning to roll around and use her right arm.
“We were told that Ellie would only have a one per cent chance of survival,” said Helen. “Right from day one, we said she had to be that ‘one’ – somebody has to be.
"One of the most difficult things for us as grandparents was that we couldn’t always be there with Ellie for her scans or hospital stays. We would just be waiting to hear how everything was going and we were always worrying. Our belief that she’d pull through was the only thing that kept us going. And she did it. When you look at what she can do now, it’s wonderful.”
Helen said, “It’s been a really difficult time and the care that Julia’s House has provided throughout has been incredible – all the nurses and carers are just so lovely. And it’s not just Ellie they support, but also her brother Tom and her Mum Jenna and Dad Luke too. Even yesterday, they came to take Ellie out for a walk. That gave Jenna and Luke some much needed ‘Tom-time’. It’s difficult getting the balance right when you have a child with complex care needs like Ellie, but Tom needs his own special attention as well.”
This month, we have launched our Together We Care Appeal to raise the £1.5m needed each year to keep our vital care service going across Wiltshire.
At home and in the hospice, our nurses and carers look after the most seriously ill children in the local community, providing their families with essential respite breaks from round-the-clock care.
“I wanted to do something to give back to Julia’s House, so I decided to take part in their Big Jump event at Netheravon Airfield earlier this month,” said Helen. “Ellie made me do it really – I’m terrified of heights, so I wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been for her.”
She said, “I was the last one to leap – we did a 360 degrees barrel roll as we jumped out and you could see the underbelly of the plane flying off without you. It was unreal. Ellie and Tom had come along with my husband and my friends. After the instructor pulled the shoot to release the parachute, we twirled over the top of them and they said they could see me waving like crazy.
“Tom didn’t realise I’d be jumping from a plane. He was worrying about me and asked, “Has Grandma got someone else with her to help her?” He came running up to me afterwards to give me a massive hug. I think Ellie thought it was really funny – she’s got a wicked sense of humour. If anyone falls over, she’ll laugh until she cries. She’s just like me.”
Helen added, “Anybody who’s thinking of doing it, I’d say absolutely do it! I’m still not keen on heights but I’d do it again next year. It was an amazing experience.”
Nicky Clack, Fundraising Assistant for Julia’s House, said, “Helen was incredibly brave to conquer her fear of heights to complete the Big Jump skydive for Julia’s House. She’s a wonderful Grandma to Ellie and Tom, and the funds she’s raised will help us to keep caring for more local families like theirs. We can’t thank her enough.
“We hope Helen’s story will inspire others to fundraise for us in the coming months to support our Together We Care Appeal – whether that’s by jumping out of a plane or taking part in something where your feet are kept firmly on the floor. We rely on our supporters to keep our care going in Wiltshire, so every pound raised makes a big difference. Have a look at our website for inspiration or get in touch if you’ve got your own fundraising ideas.”
Donate to Helen’s Big Jump Skydive challenge at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Helen-Plummer6