Riders unite for parachute jump in memory of Bradley

More than 50 people from the equestrian community have signed up for a skydive for raise money for the Blow for Bradley campaign — the anti-bullying campaign set up following the suicide of 14-year-old rider Bradley John last year.

The mass jump, scheduled for this autumn, was dreamt up by coursebuilder Andy Palmer, who knew Bradley and his family as regular competitors at Cricklands, where he has built courses for 15 years.

“I was sitting down with my brother trying to think of something crazy to do — I’ve done two skydives but he’s never jumped before — so I was discussing doing another one and then we thought ‘why are we doing it for no reason, why don’t we do it for Bradley’s charity?” Andy explained.

“I phoned Byron [Bradley’s father] and he was up for it — since then it’s all gone a bit nuts.”

The tandem jump is set to take place after Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) on 13 October at Skydive Buzz, Dunkeswell Airfield near Honiton in Devon, and is open to anyone who can raise a minimum of £350.

“I asked them if there was a maximum number of people who could jump but apparently there isn’t, if we have a lot then we can always take it into a second day,” Andy added.

“We already have a few British Showjumping commentators signed up, James Broome is saying he might do it, and I also have the former and present whips of the Mendip Farmers, one of whom says he will try and blow a hunting horn on the way down.”

Blow for Bradley supports a couple of charities, but Byron has asked that the funds go towards the Safety Guide Foundation, who he hopes will place anti-bullying information in Pony Club branches and riding schools.

“They are a very pro-active foundation, based in Manchester, which goes into schools and gives talks and lectures,” Andy said. “They get kids out doing boxing, getting their aggression out and trying to deal with whatever is causing the problem.

“Bradley was picked on at school for being into horses — so was I, when I was younger and trying to get into racing. They used to say riding horses was for girls,” he added.

Supporting Blow for Bradley was a natural choice for Andy, who had known the hunting and jumping enthusiast “almost since he was in a pushchair”.

“I have really fond memories of him falling off in a flower pot over one of my courses and trying to run though the closed glass doors in the pavilion,” he said.

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“He was one of the nicest kids you could ever hope to meet. The Friday evening before he died, I was building at Broomes’ and they had an unaffiliated derby and I was having to wait late for another ring to finish before I could build.

“He came out to help me, without being asked — that was the sort of kid he was.”

Anyone wanting to join in the skydive for Blow for Bradley can register with Skydive Buzz by clicking on the Safety Guide Foundation Jump, 13 October. After paying a deposit, jumpers are then encouraged to set up their own JustGiving pages to fundraise.

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