THE founder of Oakhaven Hospice will be celebrating her 85th birthday by taking on a 15,000ft tandem skydive in support of the charity – and has been limbering up for her challenge by performing practice jumps out of her bed every morning.
Assisted by Jill West, Oakhaven’s community fundraiser, Dr Jan Swallow (84), a retired palliative care specialist, decided to carry out a practice on one of the special beds in the hospice, mimicking her technique for exiting the plane as well as her mid-air positions.
Jan said: “I retired in 1996 and I have always been a supporter of Oakhaven. On September 6th of this year I will turn 85, and I thought a great way to remember it would be to do a skydive for the charity.
“I have been involved with the hospice from before it was born, and I was the first medical director from 1990 to 1996.
“I know how much it costs to give free service to everyone, so please just give all you can for a cause so dear to my heart. Just remember, great oaks from little acorns grow.”
She added: “I am absolutely fascinated by skydives and I am really looking forward to it, I think it is going to be great fun and I am not nervous at all.”
Jill commented: “Hopefully this will kickstart some great fundraising for Jan’s big birthday. She is quite a character and without her the hospice would not exist.
“I have been running the annual skydive for Oakhaven for nine years and next May sees our 10th anniversary. We have had over 200 people jump for us and the most usual comment upon landing is participants asking when they can do it again.”
Oakhaven Hospice began life as a charitable trust in the late 1980s when the land and original buildings were donated by Phoebe Coates in memory of her late husband, John.
Approached by Mrs Coates in 1988 who lived at Pennington Chase in Lower Pennington Lane, Jan was asked if she thought Lymington needed a hospice, and was offered £250,000 funding for building work as well as the land.
The charity’s community based service was officially opened in 1992 by the Duchess of Kent. Since its foundation, their free services have grown to provide comprehensive specialist palliative care to over 143,500 residents in the New Forest, Waterside and Totton area.
People can donate to the cause and support Jan’s jump by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jan-swallow.