Helen’s horror after pal’s parachute fails

Helen Geilhardt of 51 Morton Road Mexborough, who's doing a parachute jump for charity
Helen Geilhardt of 51 Morton Road Mexborough, who's doing a parachute jump for charity
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A MEXBOROUGH student nurse watched in horror as a pal’s parachute failed to open properly during a charity drop.

Helen Geilhardt, aged 28, had hoped to use her charity parachute jump to help her get over a fear of heights.

But she first had to confront fresh fear after seeing friend Roz Barnwell saved by a reserve ’chute after her main one malfunctioned.

The two friends leapt from a plane 20,000ft up above Oxford.

Helen was initially relieved when her parachute deployed perfectly.

But Roz’s became tangled, sending her plummeting in a spin towards the ground, in what wartime paratroopers used to call a Roman candle.

Roz’s instructor – strapped on behind her in a tandem jump – had to pull on the emergency cord to save them, as they plunged in freefall.

Helen and Roz were doing the jump to raise cash to beat lymphatic cancer – from which Birmingham lass Roz is in remission.

Roz said: “It was absolutely terrifying when we went into freefall. We landed in a nearby field and I’ve never been so relieved to be back down on the ground.

“I was very shaken up. But it was also very exhilarating, and it hasn’t put me off.

“I would do it again.”

While Roz was struggling with her parachute, her friend Helen was looking on in horror, while drifting towards the ground more sedately.

Helen said: “I can just remember seeing her main parachute float off into another field.

“I was thinking, ‘Why is she going into the wrong field?’

“I was obviously extremely worried – you don’t want anything going wrong when you’re travelling towards the ground at that speed.

“After we landed they told us some cords had become tangled.

“Roz was a bit shaken up by it but I was just glad it wasn’t anything worse.

“She must have nine lives!”

Helen was inspired to take the jump by both Roz and her stepmother Sylvia Tweed, who is in remission from lymphoma, which is the UK’s fifth most common form of cancer.

She said: “I am frightened of heights, and have been for as long as I can remember.

“But I thought of what Roz and Sylvia have gone through, and I thought if they can do that then surely I can do this.”

Helen, from Morton Road, raised around £500 for the Lymphoma Association through the jump.