Rayleigh woman skydives 13,000 feet in aid of Havens Hospices

A woman from Rayleigh has taken to the skies for a fundraising skydive in aid of Havens Hospices, a charity close to her heart.

Katherine Abel, 40, leapt thousands of feet out of a plane on Saturday 10th October for the local hospice charity who cared for her husband Dan at the end of his life.

Dan was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2012. Four years later, he was cared for by the Fair Havens Hospice at Home team and at Fair Havens Hospice until his death in November 2016.

Katherine said: “Dan had three Craniotomies, radiotherapy and chemotherapy and pretty much carried on as normal until the progression came too much in the summer of 2016. One of our daughters was just starting primary school and soon after Dan needed more care at home and we were fortunate to be told about the Fair Havens Hospice at Home team. As soon as they were involved, it was a huge relief for me as managing his care as well as looking after the children was impossible. The carers were amazing, always treating Dan with kindness and dignity.

“When we thought the end was near, we were so fortunate that a bed was available at the hospice in Westcliff and although it was obviously a terrible time, it was the right decision for our family. As soon as we got there, we knew we were in the best possible place. As it happened, Dan rallied somewhat, and where we thought he would have had a short and final stay there, the hospice ended up not just caring for Dan, but happily welcoming his many, many visitors over the couple of weeks he was there. They allowed members of the family to stay over most nights with him, they brought lovely homemade cakes and treats to his visitors and he even got to go out with his friends in his wheelchair to get a Rossi’s ice cream and go to Old Leigh for a Guinness. All precious memories that we could manage because we knew he had the best medical and nursing care so we could just enjoy being his family and friends again.”

Katherine and her family have always tried to support the hospice as much as they can and Dan ran the Southend Half Marathon raising sponsorship for the charity in 2010. Earlier this year Katherine, Dan’s mother Debbie and sister Joanne organised a Black-Tie Ball event raising nearly £10,000 for the charity.

Katherine originally signed up to take part in the Skydive on 26th September which would have been the day after her and Dan’s wedding anniversary but unfortunately due to the weather on that day it was postponed to Saturday 10th October.

She said, “I always wondered what a skydive might be like but I am hardly an adrenaline junkie, but when I saw there were late spaces for the jump on 26th September I thought it was meant to be. As it happened the rescheduled date for the jump ended up taking place almost four years to the day that Dan entered the hospice.

“It was an incredible experience, and I was chatting with my instructor on the way up about the importance of really living life to the full, and how my perspective has changed since losing Dan.  I want to take every opportunity that comes my way and encourage my children, now aged 14, 12 and 8 to do the same – although I’m sure they thought I was slightly mad taking on this challenge. I loved every second of it, and would love the chance to go again – perhaps on a warmer day though!  It did make me chuckle at the thought of Dan knowing I was doing it, he absolutely hated heights and would barely climb a ladder!”

Katherine has raised an incredible £3,700 in sponsorship for the charity which palliative nursing and supportive care to adults, young people and children living with complex or incurable conditions across Essex.

If you have been inspired by Katherine to take on one of Havens Hospices’ challenge events which include a Skydive, Wing Walk, London to Paris cycle and the Three Peaks challenge, please contact Emma Hamilton at Havens Hospices on 01702 220308 or email ehamilton@havenshospices.org.uk for more information.


Published 15th October 2020

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Katherine about to skydive off the plane