My name is Michelle Meakins, my friends call me Shell or Meakie. I am 33 yrs old and from Northampton, live in South Yorkshire with my boyfriend Keith and our dog Betty.
I started skydiving in 1995 with the University of Central Lancashire parachute club. Having started on traditional round parachutes at the North West Parachute Centre in Flookburgh, I had my first taste of what was to come right there. I was hooked. A student with not much money, wanting to take up probably one of the most expensive sports available to the general public and yes, I wanted more!
Having gained all the necessary ticks in the boxes by progressing through what is known as the “Category system”, allowed me to become a solo skydiver without an instructor, I was free to jump out of a plane, on my own and learn what proper skydiving was all about. How to fly your body for starters and how much harder it is than just falling out of a plane and how to have so much fun and meet so many amazing people along the way. I have never looked back.
Since graduating from my Media Technology course at University in 1997, I have been able to afford more jumping once I got a full time job, so I have now been skydiving over 13 years. My passion just increased and my purse got emptier! I have since jumped all over Europe and America and train with some of the best Skydivers in the world.
My memory of what drew me to the sport is very weak, I think it was a break from the norm, to do something that I knew nothing about and go for the challenge. My family thought I must be nuts, but supported me and realised its not a death defying sport as it is perceived to be, it is in fact as safe as you make it.
We are all trained to deal with emergency situations and to do so with a level head (excuse the pun), it is part of our skydiving curriculum to know how to handle things in case they go wrong.
My parents are very proud of what I have achieved over the years and how much dedication I have given to my hobby.
As a keen climber and snowboarder and my general love of mountaineering, I love sports known as “extreme” sports. I am a bit of an adrenaline Junkie I suppose. Life is too short to not try something once and if you like it, stick with it. My motivation is mostly based around that theory. Live your dreams, because you don’t live forever.
I run to keep fit and I go to the gym, being fit for sure helps with all the sports I do and physical fitness goes hand in hand with mental fitness. Skydiving and Climbing require a lot of mental concentration and you need to be switched on to perform. I compete regularly at British National Level and have won gold and Silver Medals at National level, both in 4 and 8 way Formation Skydiving as well as Canopy relative work.
By now I hold 3 British Women’s Records going back to 2002 (50way, 60 way and 68 way) where I was part of group named the “Brit chicks”- an all women skydiving group who worked together to achieve a common goal for the skydiving women of the UK and in 2007 we raised over £40’000 for the British Red cross with a red cross formation jump we achieved as part of British Red cross week.
This year I am part of a group of women who are working together to achieve the new Women’s World Record formation Record whilst doing a huge amount of fundraising for Breast Cancer research in the process.
This project is called “Jump For the Cause” and this year we hope to build a 175way formation – breaking their previous record of 151 back in 2006. We are doing this in September of this year at Perris Valley Skydiving Centre in California.
Women from all over the world are taking part, and I am one of just 30 British Women selected for this event. It is a great honour for me, a massive achievement and I am so proud to be a part of it.
Jump for the Cause has several goals;- To raise money for and awareness of Breast Cancer Research
- To set a new Women’s World Record in Formation skydiving
- To be role models for other women and young ladies
Breast Cancer afflicts 182,000 women every year, and 43,300 of those women will die from it. We need to raise these funds to keep the research going so we can help the people affected. It is a very important project for me, being a woman myself this is something that I may be affected by one day, not only me but my family too and I want to do all I can to help as much as I can.
I am looking for Sponsorship from companies and individuals for this event and if you would like to support me and my journey to getting my first World Record and making a difference towards the research of Breast Cancer, you can do so by contacting me directly via email or by donating via my website www.firstgiving.com/michellemeakins
I hope sincerely that we achieve this new Women’s Record and raise the funds we are aiming to, for me personally this is just one of many things I aspire to achieve in the coming years including climbing the Matterhorn, I hope to be on World Team next too, the biggest skydiving formation event that is organised and held in Thailand. Who knows, you may be reading about me then too.
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By Mike Valverde