On Monday 20 June, our fearless British Sign Language Instructor Nikki James and our Educational Audiologist, Helen Maiden will put their body and mind through their paces to attempt a daring skydiving official Guinness World Record.

Nikki and Helen are joining 448 other brave fundraisers to break the Guinness World Record for the most tandem skydives in 24 hours from 15,000ft, the highest humans can go without oxygen. It’s the first time this gutsy freefall challenge has ever been attempted and takes place at Dunkeswell Airfield near Exeter.

Nikki said, “I am a former student of Exeter Deaf Academy. I was lucky, I had a great education and I wanted to come back and give that same experience to the students. I want people to see the support and the positive start in life we give to our Deaf students – I’m an example of that! We have a multitude of students with different abilities here, and we educate them in many different amazing ways. The Deaf Academy is a fantastic place.”
Helen added, “I’ve been working for the Deaf Academy for three years and when Nikki told me about the skydive I thought what better cause to do it for! What a fantastic opportunity to play my part.”

We are the only specialist day and residential Deaf education provider in the South West. Our charity runs a school and college in a bilingual English and British Sign Language (BSL) environment for Deaf young people aged 4-24. However, we are not funded in the same way as a state school and rely on funding to support essential projects that otherwise would not happen.

Nikki explained, “One of the reasons I am skydiving is to raise funds for the Exeter Deaf Academy’s Forest School. It is brilliant as it is something our Deaf students can easily access as it’s natural and experiential. They learn how to trust themselves, safety, self-awareness and development, their confidence grows and they learn to value themselves. I’m a BSL tutor and the younger students can go to our Forest School teepee, built by the students themselves, and we can talk and sign about nature whilst surrounded by it. The storytelling and communication that goes on there is beautiful.”

Helen agreed, “It’s great for students to be able to interact with our external Forest School providers, Tanglewood, and it’s fundraising which will enable us to expand the Forest School next year. As an Educational Audiologist my passions are in the equipment and facilities at Exeter Deaf Academy and fundraising gives us the opportunity to get the best equipment to support our students.”

Nikki and Helen know that their adventurous 60 second freefall for us will not only give them an adrenaline boost, but also boost essential funds that enable projects that would not otherwise happen such as the Forest School. They would like other fearless individuals to take to the skies this year and take on a sponsored jump in aid of Exeter Deaf Academy on either Sunday 10 July or Sunday 25 September.

Nikki summed up, “Whether you’re hearing or Deaf, just do it! Help raise money for Exeter Deaf Academy. I want people to see that Deaf young people can achieve anything. They can have the best of everything including top quality education. One person has sponsored me £200! I don’t know who, but it’s made me feel great. Fundraising makes you feel good whether you are donating or fundraising so come and have a go!”

To sign up to skydive for us or find out more about other fundraising opportunities please contact the fundraising team on fundraising@exeterdeafacademy.ac.uk or 01392 267019.