x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UK ambassador skydives for charity

British ambassador conducts tandem jump with elite British Army parachutists the Red Devils to raise funds for charities.

Eight members of the British army's elite parachuting team fall in formation over the Palm Jumeirah. The jump, which included a maiden dive by the British ambassador and five of his staff, raised Dh20,000 for charities in the two countries.
Eight members of the British army's elite parachuting team fall in formation over the Palm Jumeirah. The jump, which included a maiden dive by the British ambassador and five of his staff, raised Dh20,000 for charities in the two countries.

DUBAI // The British Ambassador to the UAE was hurled out an aeroplane yesterday at 3,900 metres as part of a parachuting display for charity.

The official parachute display team of the British Army, the Red Devils, performed the tandem jump over Dubai with Ambassador Dominic Jermey to raise funds for three charities, one of them based in the emirate

"It was an absolute rush," Ambassador Jermey observed, afterwards.

Mr Jermey and five members of his staff took part in the jump to support the Devils' efforts to raise funds. He said at least Dh20,000 had been raised.

It was the first jump for the ambassador, who does not have a military background.

"He controlled the chute quite well for most of the jump," said Colour Sergeant Jay Webster, the leader of the Red Devils.

Sgt Webster said the team was in Dubai for its annual two-week training camp. "We perform 700 tandem jumps a year with the public for charity and 80 to 100 display jumps to help promote the British Army and recruitment for the Ministry of Defence," he said.

Three Red Devil members armed with cameras led yesterday's jump, followed by Mr Jermey and Sgt Webster.

They experienced freefall at terminal velocity of about 195 kilometres an hour for 45 seconds before pulling the chute at 1,700 metres and sailing down to land after four and a half minutes.

The Red Devils are a 16-member team of serving soldiers from the British Army's Parachute Regiment.

Every member of the team has served a minimum of three years in a Parachute Regiment battalion and has taken part in at least one operational tour of duty, in either the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan or Iraq.

"We conduct 12-man displays and perform various moves," Sgt Webster said. "We are the only team in the world to perform a canopy formation, which involves jumpers crashing in to each other mid-flight and forming on large canopy to land," he said.

Sgt Webster said the Red Devils raise more than £500,000 (Dh2.9 million) a year for the charities they support.

The charities for which yesterday's jump raised money are:

- Dubai's Offshore Sailing Club's charity, Sailability, gives people with special needs a chance to learn to sail in a structured program. It relies on donations from individuals, small businesses and corporate sponsors in Dubai for the purchase of equipment, boats, training and school visits.

- The British Army's Help for Heroes is a charity set up in October 2007 that helps wounded servicemen and women returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

- St Luke's Hospice provides care to more than 2,000 terminal or critically ill patients a year in the UK. It also has a palliative care team at Plymouth's Derriford Hospital and nurses who care for people in their home.

amustafa@thenational.ae