Chorley high fliers’ 11,000ft sky-dive to raise cash for Twincess Appeal

A CHORLEY appeal set up by the parents of two little girls with Down’s Syndrome is getting a high-flying helping hand from Boots in Market Walk.

Staff at the busy store are organising a parachute jump from 11,000ft to raise cash for the Twincess appeal, run by Jodi and Matt Parry, whose 22-month-old twin daughters Abigail and Isobel were both born with Down’s Syndrome.

The appeal was set up by the Parrys to raise awareness of the twins’ condition and also to provide a resource for other families in a similar situation. Patrons for Twincess include Tom Smith, Lancashire and England cricketer and also Jonjo Kerr – X-Factor finalist.

Jodi will be making the 120mph sky-dive above Lancaster in September, and joining her will be Arron Raw, husband of Leonie Raw, who manages the Boots store in Market Walk.

And also getting ready to make the jump is Deborah Leeson, who has just moved from the store in Market Walk to manage Boots’ Leyland store, and who is a close friend of Leonie and the Parrys.

Jodi, who also has a four-year-old son Finlay, said: “We asked Leonie and the staff at Boots if they could help with a raffle prize – and they came up with idea of a parachute jump instead, to help raise money.

“I’ve never done anything like this before, though I did a 200ft abseil in Buxton last year for the Appeal. I’m not really scared of heights, it’s hitting the floor I’m scared about!

“I am so grateful for the help from for our Twincess Appeal, we do really appreciate everything that people do for us. We hate asking for help, and we were overwhelmed with the response we got in this instance,” added Jodi, 33.

Boots manager Leonie said her 37-year-old husband, who has a tattoo parlour in Kearsley, near Bolton, was aiming to raise around £1,000 with the jump. The group of eight will make a “tandem” sky-dive from a Cessna Grand Caravan Black Hawk 208, strapped to an experienced parachutist.

Leonie added: “Arron’s always wanted to do this, but I’d never let him before! But this is a great campaign and we are happy to help. Jodi is a regular customer with the girls and Finlay, and we always take time to make a fuss of them all when they come in.”

Leonie, who has a two-year-old son Che, plus an eight-year-old stepdaughter, Sia, added: “We’ve also helped with other events for the charity, such as a five-a-side football match, when Arron made the banners.”

Sandra Hawkins, Market Walk Manager, said she thought the Twincess fundraising efforts by Boots was very brave and wished them lots of luck with their parachute jump.

Sandra said: “There is always some fantastic fundraising adventure going on amongst the Market Walk stores somewhere and this is a terrific example.

“Market Walk is at the heart of a very generous community and so I feel sure our customers will support Leonie and her team raise money for the Parry family’s Twincess appeal.

“It is great to see such a lovely local cause get so much attention from the community and well deserved it is too.”

Also aiming to raise around £1,000 with the sky-dive is Deborah, 31, who has two children, Jessica nine, and Nathan, two, as well as being  godmother to Abigail and Isobel.

“They are lovely little girls,” she said. “I’ve never done a jump like this before and I am a bit nervous. But there are about eight of us doing it, so I’m sure we will have good fun as well.”

The Twincess Appeal aims to raise awareness of Down’s Syndrome, said Jodi, a constable with Greater Manchester Police at Bury, where Matt is an acting sergeant and intelligence co-ordinator.

So far the appeal has raised £22,000, which has gone to smaller charities and to help pay for a “crash pad” for the girls, where they can play games that strengthen their muscles and aid their development.

“We want to educate midwives and nurses about what it is like to care for a child with Down’s, and remove the ‘taboo’ that surrounds the condition.  We also want to provide a resource for parents who are also experiencing similar issues with their families,” said Jodi.

While she’s at work, the identical twins go to nursery with Finlay, who is about to start infant school.

Jodi admits she was shocked when she was told she was expecting twins – but refused to take any tests to check for genetic conditions, because of the fears of a miscarriage.

The girls arrived six weeks early and were born by caesarean section at 34 weeks, three minutes apart.

They were whisked off to a specialist neonatal unit and it was two weeks before doctor warned Jodi that they were showing signs of Down’s.

Later it was established that Abigail is deaf in one ear, while Isobel has a hole in her heart.

“I sometimes think that the delay in us finding out was to enable the bond that all parents have with their babies to develop. The love was so strong that there was no news in the world could have ever taken that away from me,” writes Jodi in a blog on the charity’s website.

Today they are just learning to walk and say their first words. “They have just had some specialist boots made, to assist them with their standing. They both have a thyroid condition and we’ve had to up their medicine so their skin is suffering a little, but otherwise they are relatively fine,” said Jodi.

To donate to the Twincess Appeal go to or to sponsor the Boots parachute jump, pop into the store in Market Walk.

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