Flying with ‘a little goose’ in memory of Anna

The Gooses are promoting Cancer Fund for Children's Halloween Skydive. From left, Sinead McAtamney from Kilrea, Sarah McKeown (Glenullin), Medbh McIlvenny (Dungiven), Aine McNamee (Portstewart), Caite Skelly (Coleraine), Carla McErlean (Kilrea).
The Gooses are promoting Cancer Fund for Children's Halloween Skydive. From left, Sinead McAtamney from Kilrea, Sarah McKeown (Glenullin), Medbh McIlvenny (Dungiven), Aine McNamee (Portstewart), Caite Skelly (Coleraine), Carla McErlean (Kilrea).

A group of Coleraine schoolgirls, known locally as ‘The Gooses’, took a colossal leap of faith by jumping out of a plane in memory of their best friend whom they sadly lost to cancer.

The gaggle are now calling for more brave hearts to take the plunge in support of local children, young people and their families faced with a diagnosis of cancer.

By taking part in the skydive last November, the six girls managed to raise over £10k for Cancer Fund for Children – the charity that supported their friend, Anna McAllister from Kilrea, throughout her brave battle with a brain tumour. Now the girls are urging people to transcend their own limits and sign up to the charity’s upcoming Halloween skydive in Garvagh on October 31.

Carla McErlean, one of Anna’s best friends from Loreto College in Coleraine, explained: “Anna was just such an amazing person – she was always high-spirited and never took anything too seriously.

“She is an inspiration to us all. Cancer Fund for Children was a great support to her whole family while she was in hospital. Her family and I got to see Daisy Lodge when it first opened which is an amazing centre which offers free short therapeutic breaks to local families affected by cancer.

“Anna was one of “The Gooses” – we’re a group of really close friends and used to joke and call each other silly gooses. That’s where the name originated.”

Anna, who sadly lost her battle with cancer on September 19, last year, had always wanted to take part in a sky dive.

Carla and the girls – Aine McNamee, Sarah McKeown, Medbh McIlvenney, Sinead McAtamney and Caite Skelly - decided to complete the skydive on November 8, last year, in honour of their friend.

“I am terrified of heights,” explained Carla (17) who is also from Kilrea. “But it was such an amazing experience and when you’re up there you are filled with adrenaline that you don’t even have time to think about how scared you are.

“We kept saying we were going flying with a “little goose” in memory of Anna. We had a really good day. Everyone should do it if they can, especially for a great cause such as this.”

The euphoric challenge involves a tandem jump during which participants are strapped to a professional skydive instructor. The plane will climb to a dizzying 13,000 feet and sky-divers will free-fall, reaching exhilarating speeds of 120 miles per hour before the parachute is deployed at 5,000 feet. Once completed, the addictive nature of the challenge will have participants booking their next 
skydive experience.

Cancer Fund for Children’s CEO Gillian Creevy, congratulated the girls on the completion of their personal challenge and achievement and explained that money raised will make a vital difference to local families affected by cancer.

“The girls have achieved an amazing and admirable accomplishment by taking a leap of faith in honour of their friend.

“Cancer Fund for Children relies on fundraising activity such as that of “The Gooses” in order to continue its vital work which includes providing practical, emotional and financial support to local families affected by cancer as well as free short therapeutic breaks.

The Halloween Skydive takes place on October 31 at the Wild Geese Centre in Garvagh – fancy dress is optional. Registration is £40 and the minimum sponsorship is £390. Cancer Fund for Children’s fundraising team is on-hand to offer support, advice and ideas every step of the way.