FATHER Christmas leapt out from a plane for charity despite being afraid of heights.
Lance Corporal Ben Fidler, of the RAF Regiment, dressed up as Santa Claus and braved temperatures as low as - 0C when he jumped from a plane in aid of Sue Ryder. The parachute jump was inspired by his gran Pauline Pont, who is being treated in the Cavell Centre with dementia. He had planned to do the jump on Friday with his mum Linzie but poor weather meant it was postponed until Saturday, meaning Linzie, a shop manager for Sue Ryder, could not do it.
Ben (2 ) said: “I have never done anything like this before and I was absolutely bottling it. If I’m honest, I don’t think I will be doing it again.
“The freefall was amazing but I felt really sick when I came down. By the time I landed I was green.
“I wanted to do something that would help people. My nan is in long-term care and my mum works for Sue Ryder so to raise money for them so they can help other people seemed natural.
“I am also afraid of heights so I wanted to do something like a parachute jump just to get it out of the way.”
Ben roped his mum into the jump, along with his friend Flight Sergeant Martin O’brien so he could not wimp out at the last minute.
High winds and poor visibility forced the cancel- lation of the first jump on Friday but, despite a wind-chill factor dropping temperatures to - 0C on Saturday the jump went ahead.
Wrapped in thermals, thick jumpers and his Father Christmas costume, Ben jumped from the small plane, at Sibson Airfield, at 14,000ft.
He said: “I was the last person out of the plane which made it 100 times worse.
“There were 20 people crammed into this tiny plane with me at the back and I had to watch everyone else throw themselves off the edge.”
Despite his bravery, Ben’s fiancee Robynne Wilde (22) was unsympathetic to his jangling nerves after she completed a similar jump in Australia.
Ben said: “Robynne just laughed at me when I got home and told her I turned green.
“She gave me a slap and told me to man up.”
Ben has completed two tours of Afghanistan with his regiment but has decided to call it a day and will be leaving the force in six months’ time.
His leaving the RAF will coincide with his wedding in Jamaica to Robynne in June.
This unfortunately clashes with a charity event called the Warrior Dash, which Ben is hoping to complete at some point in the future.
Ben was hoping to raise about £500 from the skydive but is waiting to collect the money in and does not know how much he has raised.
Anybody who would like to donate to the cause should visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/linziefidler to donate.
UNITED WE FALL: Ben Fidler, with (left) friend Flt. Sgt. Martin O’brien (48), who also made a tandem jump.
DOWN TO EARTH: Ben Fidler (23), a Lance Corporal in the RAF at Wittering, makes a tandem parachute jump dressed as Santa at Sibson, in aid of Sue Ryder.