Jump­ing San­tas

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By BEN TRUSLOVE ben.truslove@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk

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.

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