A MACOSQUIN mother took a leap into the unknown last week, when she took part in a charity skydive in memory of her son, who was tragically killed in Afghanistan back in 2010.
Maggie McCormick completed a tandem parachute jump from 13,000 feet to raise money for a memorial bench in the local church, for her son Aaron.
Aaron, 22, was killed as he tried to to defuse an improvised explosive device in the Helmand area.
Brave Maggie told The Times: “We have been wanting to get a memorial bench put up in St Mary’s church in Macosquin now for some time.
“Aaron’s pals regularly visit the graveyard to spent time with him, and we felt that it would be nice for them to have something to sit on as they spent this time with him.”
When we spoke to Maggie she was still full of excitment from the jump, which she descrbed as ‘brilliant’.
The brave grandmother is already thinking about her next jump.
“It was just amazing. I wasn’t nervous at all.
“We did about two minutes of free fall and then the parachute opened.
“It was magical, my instructor was pointing out Donegal, Scotland and Rathlin Island.”
Maggie’s son-in-law Shan Cutmore also took part, and he too enjoyed every minute of it.
And Maggie had a little bit of Aaron with her on the day.
Tucked up under her shirt was a little penguin teddy bear, named ‘Pingu’.
“We gave this teddy to Aaron the first time he wasn’t with us on a holiday. Aaron’s nickname was ‘pingu’
“This little penguin has been everywhere.
“Aaron had it in Afghanistan with him, it’s even been along the Nile,” joked Maggie.
Aaron, who was a keen football fan, would have been proud to see his mum wearing a football shirt, if only to raise money in his memory.
“This started off as a bit of a joke.
“Someone said that they would give me money to wear an Arsenal top, Aaron was a LIverpool fan, so he wouldn’t have been happy,” joked Maggie.
“Then it kept going - Alan and George Robinson, who always support us in any charity events, sponsored me £85 to jump in the coleraine shirt. I didn’t mind as long as it was raising money.”
Since Aaron’s death, Maggie and Leslie have been in contact with well-known Belfast man Andy Allen. Andy served with Aaron in Afghan back in 2008. On this tour, Andy lost both of his legs and was partially blinded when a bomb exploded underneath him.
Brave Andy, who is a dad of two, has since set up his own charity AA Veterans - which raises money to provide help and support to veterans and their families in Northern Ireland.
“Andy is a great lad, and we are in regular contact with him.
“He’s so full of life and his charity is something that we as a family firmly believe in. Money raised by Andy is used to put members of the armed forces thorugh courses to help them gain employment. Any money raised stays in Northern Ireland.
“Any money that we have left over from the fundraising for the seat will go directly to Andy’s charity,” added Maggie.