19 March 2014 09:24

Swopping terra-firma for swooping through the sky, 57-year-old Leoni Pitman and at half her age Nicola Wright, just 30, decided to risk everything to raise money for their favourite charities.
These key members of the Dhekelia Scouts, Leoni is Akela or leader, for the 48th Dhekelia Cub Pack and Nicola is 'Brown Beaver' for the 48th Dhekelia Beaver Colony, decided to take advantage of a generous offer from Dhekelia's Parachuting Club to raise money for their favourite charities.
Their chosen charities were Shelter Box, and SSAFA who provide lifelong support for the British military and their families.
The two intrepid wannabee aerial artistes also wanted to support their Scouting organisation by doing the jump and placing the 48th Dhekelia Scouts, Cubs and Beavers firmly on the map.
Leoni, married to Steve and living in Oroklini, runs her art and craft shop 'Splash O'Colour' in Larnaca, explained that the club, based at Kingsfield Airfield near Dhekelia, had offered the ladies two jumps for their charity jump. That didn't explain why she wanted to jump from 11,000 feet above ground.
Leoni explained: "About three years ago a friend mentioned the idea, but we never got round to it.
"At 57 I thought if I don't do it now I never will. It was great…Chas our instructor was very patient and explained everything.
"I'll never regret doing it and I have already raised over €700 and there is more to come. I think I've found my new hobby." she added.
Nicola Wright who runs the Beavers in Dhekelia had a different reason.  Married to Cpl Terry Wright of The Second Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, she explained how they had been originally posted to Cyprus in 2006.  
But giving birth to her son Jamie in the former Princess Mary's RAF Hospital at RAF Akrotiri, now seven, meant that she didn't see very much of Cyprus on their first tour.
This time, these two outdoor fanatics have been touring and doing everything there is to do in Cyprus.
"One day we would like to set up an activities centre somewhere when her husband finally retires from the Army. But when the Parachute club offered us the chance to jump, I wanted to do it for our charities and to support the Beavers," Nicola added.
Guided by the clubs Tandem jump instructor Cpl Chas McNeil the two ladies were trained in what to do, signed their lives away, and practised their aerial manoeuvres lying on mats in the clubs training area.
Anxious husbands, friends and children watched and photographed the two training. But at the end of the first session they were told that the weather, and the cloud height, would not allow the jump to proceed that day.
Seven anxious days for the novice paras followed before the following Sunday they succeeded, jumping from 11,000 feet, landing feet first just like the pros.
So far the daring duo have raised nearly €1000 and money is still rolling in. If you want to support their, charities: Shelter Box and SSAFA, you can donate at www.youcaring.com and search for 'Leoni and Nicola's jump' and you can pay via PayPal.
Shelter Box delivers the essentials people need to begin rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of a disaster.
When we send boxes, each one is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for a family, thermal blankets and groundsheets, water storage and purification equipment, solar lamps, cooking utensils, a basic tool kit, mosquito nets and a children's activity pack.
They are currently active round the world especially in Syria, Japan and the Philippines.
More information from http://www.shelterbox.org. Information on SSAFA can be found at www.ssafa.org.uk. The Cyprus Parachute Centre is part of the Cyprus Joint Services Adventure Training Centre, (CJSATC).  The centre provides skydiving facilities, training and introductory courses for both British military and civilians.


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