Skydiving West Bromwich vicar raising money for muscular dystrophy charity

A West Bromwich trainee vicar is planning a charity skydive despite having a rare muscle-wasting condition.

Lisa Mitchell is preparing for her skydive
Lisa Mitchell is preparing for her skydive

Lisa Mitchell, aged 50, can no longer run or walk long distances after being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy 20 years ago but is determined to raise as much cash as possible.

Lisa will be jumping out of an aeroplane above Whitchurch Parachute Centre, on Thursday, November 4 and has already raised £500 for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

She said: “There is a family history within my family of FSHD. When I look back now I can see that the signs were there from probably my early teens, there was fatigue and weakness, hidden through humour.

"At that time I was told I would be in a wheelchair by the age of 50. It was a very tough period when I felt ‘written off.’ I had two young sons, was totally exhausted and had physically given up.”

Following the diagnosis, Lisa started working for her local church as an administrator. Eleven years later she was ordained in Lichfield Cathedral. She is currently a curate in a ’training parish’ and will hopefully have her own church next year.

She said: "I was a bit late to the party but I got there eventually. Thanks be to God that I am not in a wheelchair. To be honest I feel the best I ever have, both physically and mentally.”

“I had a new found passion for life and I began to focus on the things that I could do rather than the things I couldn’t. I had spent many years trying to hide my disability to the point of pretending I was just lazy."

She added: "Now I have regular visits with my specialist and try to keep as fit and healthy as I can, but most importantly, I recognise when I need to stop.

“My muscular dystrophy is no longer something which I try to hide and be ashamed of. I recognize that is part of who I am! It’s time to embrace it and fly! I know that sounds a bit cheesy but it is exactly how I feel.”

Through the marvel of science Lisa hopes new treatment will help transform the lives of fellow muscular dystrophy sufferers.

She said: "There is no cure for FSHD, but research has come a long way, the wonderful scientists have now found a possible treatment to slow down the progressiveness of the disease which could change the lives of many, including myself. Any money donated to help my fundraising into the research would be amazing."

Lisa has wanted to do a skydive for many years.

She said: “While I cannot physically run or walk a long distance to raise money I always felt that I could jump out of an airplane. Strangely once I had publicly announced it and saw the terrified reaction of others, I suddenly felt nervous and began to question my blasé reaction to jumping. But I’m over it now and can’t wait to enjoy the whole experience.”

She said her parishioners absolutely love having a skydiving vicar.

She said: “They have been fantastic and so supportive. They think I am a bit crazy but to be honest I think they knew that anyway! (After all church should be fun shouldn’t it?) I just hope I can get photographic evidence to put in the church magazine and on the Facebook page. The fundraising has been absolutely brilliant so far, quite overwhelming in these difficult times how many people have sponsored me. There’s been a real excitement about it within the church community, which is great.”

Charles Horton, MDUK regional development manager, said: “We are delighted that Lisa decided sign up to skydive to fundraise for Muscular Dystrophy UK, we can’t wait for her to fly through the sky raising awareness of her condition! It will be a great story to tell her parishioners for many years to come!”

To donate to Lisa's fundraising drive visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lisa-mitchell39.

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