A father and daughter plunged 15,000 ft to raise money for a charity supporting people with special needs across the North East.

Marty Thomas, 48, and his daughter Libbi, 16, from Stockton, dived from an airplane last week to raise funds for special needs charity, JPC Community Farm in Stokesley.

He said he decided to raise money for the organisation after quickly striking up a friendship with founder, Paul Connaughton, and finding out about the charity after visiting Paul's facility with his niece.

He said the decision to skydive was his daughter’s because it was on her bucket list, and they both found the experience amazing.

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The Northern Echo: Marty ThomasMarty Thomas (Image: Marty Thomas)

“Libbi said let’s jump out of a plane. She wasn’t fazed at all.

“There wasn’t a moment where she went Dad, I’m a bit nervous here, not once. She was unbelievable.

“I was more scared for what she was feeling. We were slightly separated when we got into the plane, I was wondering is she going to do it.

“Boom. Straight out.

“Absolute adrenaline rush like you wouldn’t believe, we had a full minute freefall, but everything about it, it made the experience unbelievable."

The Northern Echo: Marty ThomasMarty Thomas (Image: Marty Thomas)

Paul Connaughton, chief executive officer for JPC Community Farm, from Stokesley, set up the charity with his wife to provide their son, who suffers with cerebral palsy and PURA syndrome, and other like him the best care possible.

Mr Williams said he was motivated to take part for his niece who has special needs, and because he has a cousin who struggled oxygen starvation at birth.

He said they had the option to jump from 10,000 feet but figured there would be no point if they did not go as high as possible.

When describing his relationship with Paul, he said: “He’s just an all-round lovely bloke, it’s like we’d been friends for years.

“It was lovely of Paul to invite me down last week and ask me how I want the money to be spent.

“[I said] Paul, I’ve raised the money for you, just do what you need [to do]. You making this place so special, you do what you want with it.

“The support I’ve got is incredible. Paul doesn’t know this but I’ve got 32 donations from different countries. I’ve bought one of those scratch a map of the world things, I’ve scratched off all the countries.

He said he prepared an engraved plaque with a map of all the countries which donated to the skydive, along with the cheque, and presented it to Paul this weekend.

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The Northern Echo: Marty ThomasMarty Thomas (Image: Marty Thomas)

He said he’s received donations from countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, the Phillipines, Malaysia, Romania, France, Colombia and others.

Mr Connaughton said he and Marty discovered they had a lot in common, including both being originally from Billingham, knowing similar people, and both sharing a love of motorsport.

He said he was amazed by how quickly Mr Thomas volunteered to help him and admired both he and his daughter for what they did.

The Northern Echo: Marty ThomasMarty Thomas (Image: Marty Thomas)

Mr Connaughton said he and his son James, who the charity is named after, greatly enjoyed watching Marty and Libby jump for JPC.

When speaking about the event, he said: “It was amazing. Obviously James loves airplanes so he was super excited to be there.

“It’s a shame I wasn’t inspired to take part because I’m frightened of heights, I couldn’t do it.

“I thought it was crazy. I admire them, great courage. Full credit to them."

The Northern Echo: Marty ThomasMarty Thomas (Image: Marty Thomas)

He said the money will go towards adaptions for their new extended training for independence hub, a programme which helps those taking part develop skills to aid their independence.

It will assist people with money management, CV writing, personal welfare, hygiene, and will also provide activities such as wheelchair basketball and develop job skills.

He said the parents, their children and clients are often surprised by how much those taking part in the programme end up achieving for themselves.

He described their decision to create the charity as an expression of “a mother and father’s love" for their son, and said he was extremely grateful to Marty and Libby for their help.

JPC Community Farm was established by Mr Williams and his wife to ensure their son, and others like him, would always have a place which could cater to their needs and treat them well.

The fundraiser hit its goal of £5,000 and has raised £5,747 at the time of writing.

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