Last summer, two baby swimming teachers from Turtle Tots Plymouth & West Devon swapped their swimsuits for jumpsuits and jumped out of a plane and sky dived 15,000 feet to raise more than £1000 for Plymouth's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Last Sunday (30th June) it was Turtle Tots’ head office’s turn when five brave (and terrified) members of staff, including the company’s co-founders successfully took on the same daredevil challenge in aid of Plymouth’s NICU parental accommodation campaign “Keep Me Close”.
Caroline Sparks and Gaby Lixton, the co-founders of Turtle Tots were so inspired by the teacher’s challenge last year they decided to sign-up for this year’s charity sky-dive on 30th June. Joining them from the Bristol head office was Derek Sparks (director), Joanna Wood (head of aquatics) and Olivia Lixton – and from Turtle Tots Plymouth’ swimming teacher Michelle Allen. Together they will add to last year’s tally and raise more than £2000 for “Keep Me Close”.
Turtle Tots runs its award-wining baby and pre-school swimming lessons all over the UK and Ireland through a network of more than 50 licensees. Raising funds to support local causes has been a very important component of the business for the last eight years, with each licensee donating 1% of their revenue to a nominated charity in their region each year.
To date, Turtle Tots has donated over £300,000 to more than 50 charities across the UK; the head office team is aiming to add to this total themselves now after detaching themselves from their laptops and emails, to recklessly jump out of a plane and sky dive 15,000 feet.
Caroline Sparks is absolutely thrilled they participated in the charity sky dive. She said: “We were all petrified at the thought of jumping out of a plane, but we all supported each other through our nerves because we knew we were raising money for such an incredible cause - one that is very close to our hearts as a baby swimming company. It was such an exhilarating experience for us all.”
Joanna Wood, Turtle Tots’ Head of Aquatics said: “I’m not exactly sure how Caroline and Gaby roped us all into this, but we have been so overwhelmed with the support from family, friends and customers that there was literally no going back! Plus, we are raising lots of money for such a worthwhile campaign for parents here in the South West.”
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth offers the highest level of specialist expertise and care for babies born in the South West region; babies who have either been born prematurely or with other life threatening illnesses.
At the NICU, given the nature of the babies cared for, parents are encouraged to remain close by and the ‘Keep Me Close’ campaign was set-up to help more parents have this opportunity. With the funds being raised for ‘Keep Me Close’, the aim is to redevelop a new area of the hospital so families have that all-important home from home environment while their baby is being looked after.
Calli Walkerdine, the owner of Turtle Tots Plymouth & West Devon and who completed the skydive challenge last year, added: “We are so proud of the head office team and Michelle for taking on this amazing challenge, and raising money for a charity that is very dear to our hearts. Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of teaching many babies who started out their little life at the NICU and we know from speaking to their parents what amazing care they received. The “Keep Me Close” campaign is therefore incredibly important for parents - the new accommodation will give families travelling from all over the South West, the space and privacy they require during difficult times.”
To help Team Turtle Tots reach their £2,400 fundraising target, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/turtletotsskydivedevon