On Sunday 14th April, Karen Ovenden (Co-Founder and Director of Hireserve) and her good friend Paul Stretton, took to the skies in aid of St. Michael’s Hospice.

“…the Para I was with just said, “Come on Karen, you’re going skydiving!” and we
just seemed to tumble out of the plane…”

But what led them to such heights to begin with?

I spoke with Karen before her skydive to find out more about why she had decided on this daring feat, and why St. Michael’s Hospice was such an important cause to support:

“Paul and I have often talked about doing this and agreed (over a glass or two of wine!) that if one did it the other would too!

Hospices are like an oasis of peace and calm and the entire family and friends as well as those with terminal illness are cushioned and supported; it is incredible what support they give and how they help people through such difficult days.”

St. Michael’s Hospice provides a choice of specialist care and support to people faced with life-limiting illnesses and helps their families and carers. It is the only adult hospice in the local area and focuses on celebrating ‘quality of life’.

This care includes supporting patients with MND and their families, which is, as Karen explained, particularly close to her heart:

“I have always supported the Motor Neurone Disease Association as my dad died from MND 17 years ago. It was such a shattering time in my life and I always felt that I had to do something positive out of such a sad and bewildering time. Since then I have volunteered with the MND Association and raised funds through other events, from sponsored walks to street collections to hosting quiz nights. 

I always thought I would like to do something bigger to raise money and a skydive seems to be just that!”

Supporting St. Michael’s Hospice

The Hireserve team voted to support St. Michael’s Hospice as our 2018/19 Charity of the Year, and as such are raising money to support the Hospice with its vital work.

Drugs and oxygen for just one day costs £120, and the cost of providing all direct patient services in the Hospice for just one day is over £6000. St. Michael’s Hospice only receives 20% of its costs through Government funding.

Crucially, the hospice provides services free of charge to its patients. This means it needs to raise £3.1m every year to cover the rest of its costs and continue supporting people and families in Basingstoke.

“When St Michael’s hospice came in to talk to the team about their work I just felt compelled to do this now – no good putting it off. The hospice cares for patients with MND and I felt that the hospice was the right cause for me to support.

So I suppose I am doing this for my Dad – I know he would be proud and I know when I do this I will only be thinking of him.” – Karen Ovenden

And they did it!

I caught up with Karen after her skydive to see how it went:

“Paul and I were not sure what to expect but it was absolutely fantastic! 

The plane climbed to 14,000 feet and then Chris, the Para I was with just said, “Come on Karen, you’re going skydiving!” and we just seemed to tumble out of the plane.

There was a huge rush of cold air as we raced through the cloud; it was so cold but soon the parachute opened and we were gliding over Salisbury Plain. I could see for miles and it was an incredible experience. The landing was so gentle and I couldn’t quite believe I had done it!”

Not only have they completed such a daring feat, but they’ve also helped Hireserve raise over £2000 for St. Michael’s Hospice.

“Paul and I are both so pleased we did it and so grateful for all the support and sponsorship we have received – it really is incredible that we have raised so much.”

Thank you to everyone who very generously donated – it’s a brilliant cause and close to the hearts of many here at Hireserve.

If you’d still like to donate, click here to discover our St. Michael’s Hospice fundraising page.

Congratulations Karen and Paul!

The Hireserve team will be taking part in more team fundraising soon – watch this space!


About the author

Tristan Potter

Helen is Hireserve's Communications Executive, planning and executing both external and internal communications, along with a range of other marketing activities. She loves to write about working wellbeing, ATS features and Hireserve news.