World turned upside down

1st May 2019

A Few weeks ago we featured a story about grieving dad Avais Hussain who was ready to face his fear of heights to raise money for Meningitis Now. Here Avais tells the story of what happened the day he bravely flung himself out of a plane

Dad's fundraising Skydive

“My world was shaken and turned upside down when we lost our beautiful little girl, Ayesha Bisma Hussain, to Meningitis in June 2017. I was shocked at how it took only a few hours from her looking and feeling fine to being in a critical condition and then succumbing to the terrible disease."

“The news shocked everyone who knew Ayesha in many different ways. A year later I heard that Ayesha’s teachers and carers at the University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service (USAIS) had made a pledge to raise funds for Meningitis Now in memory of Ayesha to help fight the disease. They had organised a bike ride, cake sales and other activities to raise the funds, ultimately leading up to a Skydive."

“I was amazed to hear the effort they had gone to and to hear they were doing a skydive was awe-inspiring. A skydive has always been on my bucket list and I felt like this was my opportunity to join them and help raise some much-needed funds. I also knew that once I had announced it, there would be no turning back so I hurriedly told a few family and friends so I couldn’t pull out. Part of me felt as though Ayesha was hysterically laughing up in the heavens, knowing what she’d got her Dad into and knowing he would be petrified!"

Getting more nervous

“As the weeks went by I started getting more nervous. It was a really interesting confrontation with fear - whenever I would think about it I would get sweaty palms and weird flashes of being so high up and the thought of free falling from 13,000 feet in the sky. Plummeting to the ground with nothing to hold on to! What was I doing. So I decided to bury my head in the sand and not think about it at all. I found this approach rather handy and (although my wife disagrees) I’ve decided to try it more often when faced with danger."

“The skydive was scheduled for Saturday 23 March and I had kept a busy schedule for Friday thinking I’d keep my mind off it, wake up early on Saturday, make my down to Wiltshire and jump out of a plane. Unfortunately, the weather (and Ayesha) had other ideas and the skydive was postponed to Sunday - meaning I had a whole day to teeter about with no plans."

“Of course, everyone I met was asking me about the skydive so I decided to stay at home on Saturday. However, I looked up some figures on meningitis and the impact it has on so many lives, not just here in the UK but across the world. It reminded me of some friends of ours who have a beautiful little boy who was affected my meningitis in his first year and is now living with the effects it left behind. It reminded me of a close friend whose brother also unexpectedly contracted meningitis and is also recovering from the effects it left, along with another friend at school who sadly lost his life in his youth. It made me realise that actually the disease is more common than I thought, and we need to do something about it."

“This gave me renewed motivation that whatever happens we need to raise awareness of meningitis and if we can do anything, no matter how small, to support Meningitis Now’s mission, then it was worth it!"

Felt calmer

“Sunday was beautiful day and when we reached the base in Wiltshire we saw many skydivers jumping and landing safely and seeing this made it less unknown and gave me some reassurance. Still, that didn’t stop me from asking questions during the briefing. As we climbed aboard the wobbly single propeller plane (no disrespect to their plane, I’m sure if was very well maintained and reliable!) I still felt calmer than I thought I would. That bubble was soon burst when the green light came on and they opened the plane door at 13,000 feet and I could feel the air gushing in. At this point there is a part of you that thinks, wait a minute, the door isn’t supposed to open on airborne planes."

“One person went before me and it was as if they just fell out of sight and that’s when it hit me again. Oh Lord what am I about to do! Sitting on the edge of the plane looking down was one of the most frightening experiences ever! 1 2 3 and we were out."

“Freefalling! Those 45 seconds were exhilarating. I would never have thought it would be as great as a feeling as it was. It was weird, I wasn’t scared anymore, as if my mind had given up being scared thinking “oh well he’s done it now. We might as well let adrenaline and those other feelings take over”. Wow, what an experience. Fundraising was going well and we had hit a few thousand but on the day we eclipsed £7,000 and are still going strong. The final figure was close to £8,000 including Gift Aid."

“I want to thank everyone for their support and donations to this worthy cause. I want to also thank USAIS for planning this in memory of Ayesha. You guys are truly amazing!! A special thanks to H Sangha for providing support and joining in the skydive. I would recommend everyone to do a skydive at least once. I’m looking forward to planning the next…”

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