A Whitechapel charity worker overcame his fear of heights by completing a tandem skydive from 10,000ft to raise vital funds for The Sick Children’s Trust.
Imtiaz Pathan – Manager of Stevenson House, a ‘Home from Home’ that supports families with a seriously ill child being treated at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel with a free place to stay just minutes away from their child’s bedside – travelled to Cambridge to complete the jump, raising more than £1,100 for a charity he holds close to his heart.
Imtiaz Pathan, moments before leaving the plane. Credit: Imtiaz Pathan.
“I initially thought that I would never be able to do a skydive as I’m scared of heights, so I pushed this challenge out to my friends”, said 44-year-old Imtiaz, who joined The Sick Children’s Trust in 2019, guiding Stevenson House through the challenges presented by COVID-19. “One of my best friends, Fahad Bhatti, put his hand up, really excited about doing it for our charity. But then he kept on calling and messaging me every evening, saying ‘you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do this!’ I really wasn’t sure, but the more we talked about it the more I realised that it would be a great thing to do, a once in a lifetime experience to raise money for a charity that I care so much about while also conquering one of my fears in the process.”
On Sunday 4 June, Imtiaz faced those fears head on, joining up with numerous other first-time skydivers for a jump that would see them reach speeds of up to 120mph while raising vital funds for the charity.
“It was great to speak to those other skydivers, learning about how The Sick Children’s Trust and our ‘Homes from Home’ helped them or other family members during one of the most difficult periods of their lives”, said Imtiaz. “My family were also there, with my young daughter asking me again and again why I am doing this if I fear heights! But honestly, those families are the reason. We see every day the stress and strain that they are going through, but we also know how thankful they are that places like Stevenson House exist, especially in a cost-of-living crisis. To be able provide those families with a free ‘Home from Home’ so close to their child, where they can look after themselves as well as receive moral support from our staff, is the most amazing thing.”
Airborne! Credit: Imtiaz Pathan
Imtiaz said that despite everything, he was surprisingly calm on the big day, but admitted everything changed at the point his feet were dangling out of the plane. “I did have a moment of panic, and when we jumped, I completely forgot everything my instructor had told me in the training! Thankfully he was attached to me and very much in control. The experience of freefalling was exhilarating and terrifying – I must admit I was thrilled when the parachute finally opened. It felt like someone had put the brakes on, but I was still surprised how quickly we were travelling when we reached the ground.”
“I’m really proud to have done it and have had so many lovely messages from family and friends as well as from families we are supporting here at Stevenson House, which is fantastic.”
The Sick Children’s Trust does not charge families to stay in any of its ‘Homes from Home’ however it does cost the charity £40 to support a family for one night. That cost is only rising with the cost-of-living crisis which is why the charity needs even more support. Elisa Cappello Dowd, Community Fundraising Manager for The Sick Children’s Trust, said:
“Imtiaz has always gone above and beyond for The Sick Children’s Trust, doing everything in his power to help the families who stay at Stevenson House during such difficult times. To brave a skydive when you have a fear of heights is astounding, and we cannot thank him enough for his efforts to raise more vital funds for our charity.”
More information about Imtiaz’s skydive challenge can be found on his Just Giving page:
Credit: Imtiaz Pathan