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Blind vicar in parachute jump for church

A blind vicar is to put his faith and trust to the test when he jumps out of a plane at 13,000 feet to raise funds for a major extension to his Hampshire church ...

A blind vicar is to put his faith and trust to the test when he jumps out of an aeroplane to raise funds for a major extension to his Hampshire church.

Mark Madavan, who has just four per cent vision in daylight, is to leap from 13,000 feet in a tandem jump with the Royal Logistics Corps’ RLC Silver Stars at Redlands, near Swindon in September.

Mark is the Senior Minister at Locks Heath Free Church near Fareham. The church, which has been established for more than 100 years, is now so popular they are planning a £4.2m extension.

And while pledges and donations from the congregation and church family have covered a large part of that cost, there is still a shortfall. Some members are taking part in the three peaks challenge, but adrenaline-junkie Mark wanted to do something different.

“I have always wanted to do a parachute jump and, when I told people, one of our congregation said he could help to make that happen,” said Mark.

“I want to raise a decent amount for the church – surely people would be happy to pay for a blind vicar to jump out of an aeroplane at 13,000 feet wouldn’t they?”

Mark has had the degenerative eye condition retinitis pigmentosa since he was young. His eyesight has worsened as he has got older so that he now has just four per cent vision in daylight.

More than 800 people use the Locks Heath Free Church building during the week for a wide range of community functions as well as services – but it now needs to be extended to cater for even greater demand.

Mark said: “The church building has always been a place for worship, but it is also a vital hub in reaching and enriching the wider community. We support people in the good times and the bad, providing vital courses and programmes, youth and children’s work, relationship support and many practical facilities. But the building is now restricting what we can do, and our skilled staff and volunteers are facing the prospect of turning people away unless we can expand our space.”

“We are about £500,000 short in our funding. I am confident we can close the gap but fundraising events, like me jumping out of an aeroplane, will make sure that we do.

“I am not frightened or scared of the jump – after all, I have my faith – but I am excited and looking forward to the challenge if it can bring in money to help our appeal.”

To support Mark Madavan’s parachute jump you can make donations through https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/blindleapoffaith

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