My son, Andrew’s eldest daughter, Joy, had reached sweet sixteen and according to Andrew, was taking a serious look at her future career.    This was at the beginning of 1994.     Whilst Andrew and Linda expected her to stay on at school to take her A levels, she had other ideas.

She was friendly with a nursing sister from the local hospital in Shrewsbury, whom she met regularly on a Sunday at Bayston Hill, Christchurch.    Joy finally made up her mind to become a midwife and told her dad she wished to train for this career, rather than take A levels.    

Joy chose a number of hospitals which provided courses for would-be midwives, including those at Bournemouth and Portsmouth.   She had targeted the Bournemouth hospital, I think, mainly because of the climate and sandy beaches.  Strange this should be the case, when she was born in Portsmouth and that we lived there.    Probably, this was due to her mother’s influence, who could never come to terms with living in a built-up area after she left Coombe Martin, Devon, when she married Andrew, who worked in Portsmouth.

Appointments were made for Joy to look at both these hospitals, providing an opportunity for Andrew to bring his family down with them on separate interviews.    The Bournemouth visit did not impress Joy so much as the St Mary’s Hospital, Portsmouth, which had recently had the maternity unit modernised and opened by Princess Margaret.   During the conducted tour by the nursing officer of the maternity unit, she announced that a vacancy had occurred for the autumn training course for the first year midwifery trainees.   Those in the party being conducted around were invited to apply for this vacancy.   Joy had no hesitation in putting her name forward, as did most in this party of around 16, who would not normally be training until the following year.    Before the look-see party departed, they were informed that several had been chosen for interview for this vacancy, of which Joy had been included.   This would take place the following week.

Dad was having a busy time, ferrying Joy between Shrewsbury and Portsmouth, but it was fortunate that they had a base to stay at.   Joy told me, “I prayed hard to God, to be chosen for this vacancy.  I do so want to be a midwife.”   She was well-built, having firm legs, like her granddad’s and took long strides when walking, giving the impression that there were matters to attend to.   Having five brothers and sisters, she always had young company at home and from time to time would have to keep an eye on them, from the baby stage.

At the final interview, there was only one other candidate, who was more mature than Joy, she had two children of her own she informed Joy in the waiting room.    She also mentioned to Joy that she should not have put in for this vacancy, as she would not be able to cope with the children.   When Joy returned with her dad to Wigan Crescent, there were tears in her eyes, as she had been told after the interview that this other candidate had been successful, because she was more mature.    We tried to keep her spirits up before she left, with Ella handing her some chocolates to take back with her.

The following day, we received a phone call from Andrew at dinner time, telling us that the successful candidate had withdrawn and Joy had been asked to take her place.    We spoke to Joy on the phone that evening to congratulate her, and she declared, “That was because I prayed hard to God!”    It is not often that one hears a youngster declare their faith in prayer, as Joy was prepared to do.  God certainly tested her, as he answered it in his own mysterious way.

How fortunate are children who are brought up in a Christian family, as Andrew and Linda’s children are, to have faith in the Almighty.   One needs faith to take us through the trials of life, for without it, you are no more than the living creatures around us.

It was with this faith, when 15 years of age, that Joy did a parachute jump in aid of charity, which became an article in my series of ‘Helping Others’, published in the journal of the Spiritual Healers Association.    Here is a copy of that article:-


“Granddad, will you sponsor my parachute jump?” asked the excited young voice on the phone.    I immediately recognised Joy’s voice.  

Why should a fifteen year old girl want to do this jump? I wondered.  What about the safety standards to be met, and who benefits from this sponsorship?   From these questions, and many more, I have learned that this is all about saving lives.

Air ambulance services across the country provide air rescue, where no other flight rescue service exists, such as Air Sea Rescue for coastal districts.

An Air Ambulance Emergency Service operates for the West Midlands, and can reach all areas within 15 minutes.    This air service provides rapid para-medic response at the point of rescue, with the fastest available transport to the most suitable hospital.

Finance for this Air Ambulance service, based at Cosford, is funded by public donations and from sales of various items, such as T-shirts, pens, badges, etc.   Other funds are generated by co-ordinators adopting new schemes; their latest sponsorship event being the parachute jump.   You might say, in a moment of rashness, my granddaughter, Joy, with three other youngsters of the same age, entered this jump.   The British Parachute Association provided instructors and facilities, to ensure that these brave teenagers can survive to tell their story.   When Joy completed her training, she made it known that, although scared, she nevertheless intended making the jump.

My sponsorship was conditional upon my receiving her personal account of the jump.   Needless to say, I was very thrilled and proud to receive her narrative, which follows unabridged.    I have her permission to publish, that you might share with me her emotions as she dropped from the sky ………TO HELP OTHERS.         Alan Rayment.


Joy’s Letter.


Dear Granddad

Thank you very much for a great holiday in Portsmouth.    We were lucky with the weather, although the sea was COLD.    It was great fun travelling on the trains around the south of England this year, and I do hope to do a lot more travelling now that I am getting older, that’s if Mum and Dad will let me.

I’ve started VI Form now.    It’s great, but the work is hard.   I do not like this idea of work, but its got to be done.

This jump was great.   I cannot believe I’ve done it.   I was getting worried, as time was going on after it was cancelled.   I got up Sunday morning and said, “Right, I’m going to do it today.”

I phoned up Simon (the other cadet I’m going to do it with) and went to Tilstock Airfield with him.   We had to answer some questions, which were difficult, to check that we had not forgotten any of the training, though we had to prove that we could still do a proper landing.   Next they gave us a kit.  Then fixed us along with two other regular jumpers (one who had attended the 6 hr training session with us), they took us to the light aircraft.  Now, I was feeling really scared.  I did not know why I was doing it.    As the plane took off I knew why; to save the Shropshire Air Ambulance and therefore to save people’s lives.   As I peered out of the windows, I saw land getting further and further away.    I would just like to remind you that I have never been in an aircraft before.    There was no way out now.   I had to do it because the bloke behind me would be angry if he’d had to land and take off again before jumping out.    The engine of the plane stopped.    Simon (the first jumper) made his way into position, then disappeared.   I could just see his parachute open, it was all so quick.   Then it was my turn.   I slid into position, my heart raced, then I pushed off.    I did not like to think I was jumping out of the plane.  I just thought I’ve to do a few things first.  Push off on what I was sitting on.  Spread my arms and legs out.  Count and look up.    I was so shocked that I had done this, that I forgot to check that the parachute had opened.   I did feel the pull on it though, and I prayed so hard and so much that there was no way that anything could go wrong, without me knowing.   I looked around to find out where I was planned to land.     I was a bit freaked because there was a busy main road which I could land on.   I spotted Simon and the large orange cross.   I was falling faster than Simon … what had gone wrong?  There was nothing I could do about it, so I tried not to think about it, just prepare myself for the landing, which was approaching.   I raced past Simon, and the man who was standing in the field began to give me instructions, which mainly consisted of “pull to the left and then the right toggle, etc …”    and then I landed.

I was aware that a ground rush would happen, but this I never experienced.   I did not perform a proper landing, which should have included a roll, I just found it impossible.    I could have walked off, but I thought I might get told off, so I curled my knees and curled over.   I could feel that the shock had stopped in my ribs, which were sore for a couple of days after.  I picked up my parachute, rolling it around in my arms, and found that I had practically landed right next to the gate, where Mum and Dad, with Simon’s parents were standing.    Mum gave me a big hug, she felt so relieved it was all over.    Simon was so shocked, that he lay on the grass thinking about it.   They called over to him, “If you are injured, wave your hand.”  Simon waved his hand, because he only heard the ending, so they went to help him.   But he was not injured, he had misheard them.

Now I’m trying to collect in all the money … which is really difficult.  People are unhelpful saying can you come back tomorrow, etc …Apparently I hit the instructor in the face when I left the plane.  He claimed I did it DELIBERATELY … I agreed.   They said I could do another jump … I do not know that I want to … I was lucky to survive this one … another jump could be pushing it.  

Hope to see you soon,

Lots of love,



What courage this young lady displays.  Her confidence in the power of prayer … and that questionable moment when she rushed past Simon, who had jumped before her, wondering if perhaps something was wrong after all.  A moment she will never forget.   Well done Joy …

Editor, David Bowen.
      Joy’s choice to come to Portsmouth proved very beneficial, both from the training aspect but also from the social and sports aspect.   At St Mary’s Hospital a new educational complex had recently been completed before her arrival.   It was equipped with the latest teaching aids, such as projectors and had a very good refectory, catering for both hot and cold meals.   Her hospital accommodation was close to the education complex, be it not up to the standard that Joy would have preferred.   Shortly after taking up residency, she had a new fridge installed in her apartment.

A bonus she did not expect when taking this course, was that the tutors were supplied by the Portsmouth University and that their students were given access to this University’s facilities.   This was indeed a bonus, in that she was able to join their sporting sections such as swimming, hockey and running.   This brought her into contact with many students, other than those on the course.   I smiled when she told me, “I do not want to be mixing all the time with the same girls on the course, talking about the day’s course work.”   She attended Chapel in Cosham, from which she developed several friendships with the local community.

For Ella, it was a morale booster to have Joy local, whom we saw almost weekly and it was made clear that she could come here any time she wished to relax and was given a key to the house.  

Contents - Introduction - Home

Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: January 20, 2001