Lorna McCormick from Killyleagh made her first sky dive for two local suicide awareness and prevention groups, and said she can’t wait to get back up there and do another one!
Recently, Lorna, who works for the South Eastern HSC Trust in learning disability, decided to fundraise with local suicide awareness charity Suicide Down to Zero (SDZ 0000). She has been actively raising vital funds for a number of years and said this was her biggest step yet… out of a plane. Lorna also presented a cheque to All Lives are Precious NI (ALPS NI).
Lorna said: “SDZ 0000 is a charity is very close to my heart. I lost my sister Natania Hagen through suicide on 25 January 2014. She was just 27 years old. I am a member of SDZ 0000 and would like to see suicide go away altogether. We believe it can be eradicated.
“I contacted the Wild Geese parachute group who organise sky dives for charities and signed up for a dive. I was quite apprehensive about it really. But I felt committed to the importance the dive would have in helping to combat suicide in our society.
“I travelled up to airfield beside Glenavy and did the short trying session which lasted a couple of hours on the same day as the jump. The first one was actually called off as it was far too windy.
“We were planning to make a tandem jump which was great as I felt much more secure with someone who knew all about parachuting. As we went to the door to jump out, I could see the photographer clinging underneath the wing taking a couple of photos.
“Then in a moment we leapt out of the door into fresh air and I could just feel a tremendous rush of air. It was quite exhilarating. Then the string was pulled and the first small parachute opened which dow out the bigger parachute. In an instant we were gliding through the air. It was incredibly peaceful as we slowly dropped down to the ground under the rectangular-shaped parachute. It was an amazing experience. It just felt so relaxing. We had jumped out at around 13000 feet and were several thousand feet about ground when the chute opened up. It was amazing to see the world from this perspective.
“The photographer even came down beside us as we were free falling and took a couple of photos. Apparently she does this all the time and has done over 1000 jumps.”
Lorna explained that it took the small plane fifteen minutes to reach the required altitude to jump. And when she was approaching the ground in a very controlled fashion, she could see the marker which they landed quite close to.
After the presentation when Lorna gave a cheque for £205 to ALPS NI and £332.50 to SDZ 0000, and Pat McGreevy of SDZ 0000 said he was delighted with the donation and added: “Lorna is inspirational in her dedication to supporting our cause. It has made us wonder what more we could do to help raise awareness about the issues around suicide. Our group believes fundamentally that suicide can be eliminated… reduced to zero… if we adopt the right strategy is dealing with it. Every pound raised is a step to achieving this goal.”
“Ronan Gilchrist of ALPS NI also expressed his appreciation to Lorna and added: “This cheque will help to support other key events for our project to tackle suicide through training and education in the community. We are very much involved in the work of prevention. We thank Lorna for her very brave effort.”