Sir: ‘The sky’s the limit to help a student in need’


When Tadcaster Grammar School student Flora Nelson needed a new wheelchair, her Teaching Assistant was more than ready to jump to the challenge.

James Burns, who works in the Learning Support Department at the School, decided to jump-start Flora’s wheelchair fund by raising money through a sponsored skydive.

Flora, who is in Year 7, suffers from severe hearing impairment and severe verbal dyspraxia and is unable to walk. She needs a special custom-made light-weight wheelchair to enable her to move around the school more independently; the cost of which can often run into hundreds, or even thousands of pounds. James, who works alongside Flora in the Learning Support Centre at Tadcaster Grammar School, wanted to show his personal support and his idea took flight during the school holidays.

James travelled up to Peterlee and, along with five others, jumped from a distance of 11,000 feet up.

“It was pretty nerve wracking,” said James. “I think what made it worse was the fact I was the last man to jump and my knees were physically knocking,”

“I wasn’t too keen on the landing either, as I had been told that if I didn’t tuck my knees well up I could sustain a broken leg or similar injury,”

But despite his fear, James survived injury-free and raised the magnificent sum of £300, which has made his skydiving efforts all worthwhile, albeit an experience he is not too keen to repeat in a hurry.

Flora’s parents David and Sally Nelson of Church Fenton cannot praise James highly enough for his efforts to help Flora in her quest for a new wheelchair.

“This is a fantastic effort by James,” said Mr Nelson. “We are extremely grateful, not just to James, but to all those who have supported him with their sponsorship.”

So what events are planned now to help raise more funds for Flora? Well one thing is for sure, James won’t be doing any more skydiving, but he will be involved in any fundraising event he can, to make sure that Flora gets her new wheelchair and the independence she needs at Tadcaster Grammar School.