She’s usually keen to stay high up in the air – but now this Portsmouth mum has set her mind on a long descent as she plans to abseil off Table Mountain in Cape Town to raise money for seriously-ill children.
Flight attendant Leah Taylor is to join other members of her British Airways cabin crew in raising money for the charity Dreamflight.
Every year the charity takes children with a serious illness or disability on a holiday of a lifetime to Orlando Florida.
Dreamflight also covers the costs for the children to be accompanied by a team of volunteer doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and carers who provide 24-hour support – without which many of the children would not be able to go.
Leah, from Hilsea, said: ‘Due to all the support staff also being flown out it enables the children to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience. There will be 192 children who will be flown out on a BA jet next October. Whilst out there they will get the opportunity to experience Disney, swim with dolphins at Seaworld and also visit all the other parks such as Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.’
Leah also feels the 10-day trip has the additional benefits of enabling the children to develop a level of perspective and independence which their illnesses may have previously restricted.
‘The children leave their families behind, giving them the opportunity to discover independence, confidence and a whole new outlook on life,’ she said. ‘Often for the first time these children realise that they are not alone, and they are not the odd one out. They see children around them that have also suffered and they gain perspective and experience things they never thought possible.’
Last year, as reported in The News, 12-year-old Portsmouth school boy, Joseph Riggs took part in the Dreamflight trip.
Speaking at the time Joseph said: ‘Dreamflight is the best thing I have ever done and I loved every single day so much.’
With more Hampshire children set to benefit, Leah is set to abseil down the 1000 metre high mountain on Wednesday 16 of January as part of a working trip to Cape Town.
‘I am excited to raise money for such a great cause but I am also terrified at the same time. I have two children myself and when you see these brave children suffering from conditions such as cancer and multiple sclerosis it is really important to give them this experience. It provides them with the fun they may not get to experience when constantly in and out of hospital,’ she added.
The charity has been running the annual trip since 1987 but with the average cost of each Dreamflight place around £3,500 the charity needs to raise around £1m a year.
Dreamflight representative, Lisa Bishop, said: ‘We wouldn’t be able to run these trips if it wasn’t for the fantastic efforts of people like Leah. It really is life changing for the children. The last few Paralympics have involved medal winners who were previously Dreamflight children. They have all credited the trip as being a real catalyst for a life-changing experience.’
To sponsor Leah’s abseil then go to her just giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/leah-taylor12