A daredevil mum has signed up for a treetop bungee jump as a way of thanking the children’s hospice that cared for her baby son. Jo Rawlings is taking part in this summer’s pulse-racing fundraiser at Thorpe Woodland Adventure, in Thetford Forest.
The Tree Top Drop Challenge is one of the new events in East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) fundraising calendar for 2023. It involves a 20-metre tree climb and bungee jump and Jo has a special reason for signing up and supporting EACH.
Son James suffered severe complications when he was born and died just over two weeks later. He and his family were supported at The Treehouse, in Ipswich.
“I’ll do anything I can to support EACH,” said Jo.
“They’ve always been there for us and I love raising funds and awareness, to help other families going through what we’ve been through. Even now when I walk into The Treehouse, I feel close to James.
“I have so many memories and they’re all positive ones, which is lovely because it could have been very different if it wasn’t for EACH. It was somewhere he was comfortable and peaceful and I’m forever grateful we were given the opportunity to be a family.
“I have so much to be thankful for.”
After being born in 2016, James was transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. He was dependent on a life-support machine and it was there that his family was introduced to EACH and given the opportunity to move to The Treehouse.
Jo and husband Jon were able to bring their newborn son home when he started breathing for himself but, sadly, he died after just 18 days. EACH continued to support the family in terms of memory-making and counselling.
“No amount of fundraising can ever repay them for what they’ve done,” said Jo, who lives in Ipswich and has a five-year-old son, Josh.
“EACH turned a horrendous situation into something I can look back on with fondness. They’ve been there for us every step of the way and it’s like a second family.
“People think the worst when they hear the word ‘hospice’. I had my own perceptions but it was the complete opposite when we turned up that night.
“It was amazing. The staff couldn’t do enough and it wasn’t depressing at all. In fact, it was one of the happiest, cosiest places I’ve ever been and somewhere I felt close to James.
“I felt safe there and still do, even now when I go back with Josh. It feels like a second home.”
The new Tree Top Drop Challenge is taking place on 11th August and the cost for both adults and children (who must be over the age of eight) is £25. Jo is no stranger to fundraising and organised an epic firewalk in 2019, raising £12,000.
“I’ll do anything to help and am looking forward to this challenge,” she said.
“Josh and I have signed up for one of the EACH nights at Clip ‘n Climb Ipswich and that will give me some idea of what I’ve signed up for – and give me some indication of how good I am with heights!
“I wasn’t allowed to climb trees when I was younger so now I’m rebelling, at the age of 40!”