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Scared of heights Charlotte ready for 15,000ft  cancer charity skydive

Cambridgeshire woman’s skydive comes following the death of her only uncle

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Charlotte West will face her fear of heights head-on when she throws herself out of a plane in memory of her uncle who died of brain cancer shortly after becoming a first-time dad. Charlotte, a marketing assistant from Over, Cambridgeshire, is hoping to complete a tandem skydive from 15,000ft in aid of Brain Tumour Research on May 12.

She said: “I have a crippling fear of heights, but I felt if I was going to ask people for money, it should be for something they wanted to pay to see me do.

“Besides, my uncle, who I’m doing this in memory of, was a Royal Marine Commando who had to jump as part of his training and also took part in the occasional fun jump when he was stationed in Hong Kong, so I know he’d approve.

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“My jump will take place in the village where he lived, in County Durham, which is also a nice connection.”

The 24-year-old had originally been due to jump on April 6, but it was called off because of high winds caused by Storm Kathleen.

“I’m looking forward to it being over because waiting around after having the briefing and training is scary and overthinking is driving me crazy,” said Charlotte.

 Brain tumour patient Stuart Dunn with his son Thomas

 

Her inspiration for supporting the charity comes following the death of her only uncle, Stuart Dunn.

She said: “Stuart had a huge energy and was so much fun. He was described as fearless and looked terrifying as he was more than 6ft tall and covered in tattoos, but he was as soft as a teddy bear.

“I have two sisters and he loved all of us. He’d be at every family occasion, Christmases, weddings, birthdays, and was such a huge part of our lives. It’s been really difficult accepting that he’s gone.”

Stuart, from Shotton Colliery, Durham, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma (GBM) – an aggressive form of brain cancer with a devastatingly short prognosis of 12-18 months – after suffering a seizure during a flight home from Thailand in February 2020, at which point his tumour was so large it had moved his brain off-centre.

Fundraiser Charlotte West who will be skydiving in aid of the charity Brain Tumour Research in her uncle’s memory.

He underwent a debulking surgery followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy but died 17 months after diagnosis, aged 58.

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His son, Thomas, was just 12 months old at the time. 

Charlotte said: “Stuart’s treatment took place during the COVID-19 crisis, so we weren’t able to see him as much as we would have liked. We also had our last Christmas with him taken away, which was horrific.

“As a marine, Stuart served in the Falklands and did multiple tours in Ireland and Hong Kong. He also had a serious motorbike accident in which he lost six inches of bone in his leg and couldn’t work anymore.

“Surviving war and a life-changing motorbike accident to be killed by brain cancer shortly after having a baby just isn’t fair.”

She added: “I couldn’t believe it when I learned how little funding goes towards researching brain tumours, just 1%, despite them being the biggest cancer killer of the under 40s.

Photos show (left to right): Brain tumour patient Stuart Dunn with his son Thomas; Royal Marine Stuart Dunn getting ready to skydive in Hong Kong; Fundraiser Charlotte West who will be skydiving in aid of the charity Brain Tumour Research in her uncle’s memory.

Photos show (left to right): Brain tumour patient Stuart Dunn with his son Thomas; Royal Marine Stuart Dunn getting ready to skydive in Hong Kong; Fundraiser Charlotte West who will be skydiving in aid of the charity Brain Tumour Research in her uncle’s memory.

“The reason people are still dying from GBM is because we don’t know or understand enough about the disease. The more money that can be spent in the labs getting to the bottom of that, the better.”

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “With one in three of us knowing someone affected by a brain tumour, Stuart’s story is, sadly, not unique. Brain tumours kill more men under 70 than prostate cancer, more women under 35 than breast cancer and more children than leukaemia.

“We’re determined to change that, but we can’t do it alone. We’re really grateful for charlotte’s support and wish her the best of luck with her jump. Together we will find a cure.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.

The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

To support Charlotte’s fundraising, visit www.gofundme.com/f/rpz3z-skydive-for-brain-tumour-research.

 

 

 

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