Brother and sister jump 3,500 feet for forces charity
A HUNTINGDONSHIRE teenager who had never been up in a plane before decided to jump out of one for charity after being inspired by her brother’s experience on the Afghan frontline.
Hinchingbrooke Sixth Form pupil Jessica Brocklebank, 17, defied her fears when she, along with her brother Matthew, a soldier with the Territorial Army, jumped 3,500 feet for the service charity Combat Stress.
The pair did the parachute jump after Matthew, a member of 6 Regiment Army Air Corps (Volunteers), returned from a four-month tour of Afghanistan.
Matthew, who by day works in customer services and lives in Chatteris, spent from October to February last year as part of the ground crew at Camp Bastion.
The 32 year old said: “It was definitely an experience. It was a bit challenging. I enjoyed it but I wouldn’t say it was good.
“It is a complete contrast to my civilian job, which makes it so rewarding. My job in the military is to load missiles, bullets and fuel in helicopters.”
Matthew spent Christmas Day last year on duty and described it as an ‘emotional day.’
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“We got 30 minutes with a phone-call a week and the Internet, when it is working, but that is a part of the experience and the challenge.
“You only hear on the news when there is something fantastic or devastating. It was the guys on a daily basis with life-changing injuries, who affected me.”
So far Jessica and Matthew have raised �500 for the charity, which helps ex-service personnel with mental health issues.
The pair were part of a group of 12 who signed up to the jump at Netheravon, near Stonehenge last month. The others included army air corps volunteers - many of whom had served in Afghanistan.
Before jumping the group were given a day’s training, though nothing could prepare for the sunset free-fall over the Salisbury Plain.
Writing on her JustGiving page following the jump, Jessica, of St John’s Road, Huntingdon, said she was keen to do another one.
She wrote: “It was the first time I had been in a plane, therefore I can now say I’ve been up on a plane, but never landed, as I actually landed on my own feet.
“On my course were men and women who had been or were going into the warzone - this kind of touched my heart. It was also touching to realise that the guy filming it was only 18, did his first jump a year ago and is joining the army planning on going to Afghan soon.
“The things the soldiers see whilst on tour would probably be enough to scar anyone. This is a big reason as to why I am so passionate about this charity.
“We should be proud of them all. I couldn’t be any more proud than I already am of my brother. To me he is a real hero, among the rest of dedicated soldiers in the forces.”
INFORMATION: To sponsor Jessica and Matthew or to find out more go to www.justgiving.com/Jessica-brocklebank