Family members and friends of the 38 people who died in the Tunisia terrorist attack in 2015 will be jumping out of a plane to honour their memories and mark the sixth anniversary of the tragedy.
The skydive will be held on July 3, just after the June 26 anniversary, and will raise money for Smile For Joel, the charity set up by Suzy Evans and her son Owen Richards who lost three loved ones in the attack.
Suzy, from Wednesbury in the West Midlands, lost her son Joel, 19, brother Adrian, 49, and father Patrick, 78. Owen was just 16 at the time and was on holiday with his brother, uncle and grandad. He survived the attack.
Smile For Joel was created two years later in memory of Joel, Adrian and Patrick, to help other families torn apart by murder and violence.
Suzy, Owen and Suzy’s cousin Claire Webb will be taking part in the skydive in memory of Joel, Adrian and Patrick.
They will be joined by Lee Stocker, who is taking part in memory of his parents John and Janet Stocker from Morden, south London; Jordan Lovett, who is jumping in memory of her sister Carly Lovett from Gainsborough in Lincolnshire and Lewis Burbridge, who lost his grandma Lisa Burbridge, from Whickham, Gateshead, in the attack.
Another 32 other friends and supporters will also be taking part to ensure each of the 38 victims is represented.
Suzy, aged 52, said: “We have got Joel’s old teachers from Stuart Bathurst and Wood Green schools and a lecturer from Worcester University taking part. We have two police officers jumping, a representative from Victim Support and members of the public who have joined the team to support us. The response has been incredible.
“I will be nervous on the day, but I am really excited for the event. It’s going to be the first time we have been able to do an event face-to-face for over 18 months.
“It will be really special to see the other families. Some people are travelling quite a distance so it means to a lot to me that they are coming to the event. We didn’t want to do it on the actual anniversary, because people will have their own plans for that day to remember those who died, so we arranged it for a week later.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed we get good weather on the day. The three of them will have the best seats in the house and I’m sure they will be watching with big smiles.”
Owen, now 22, said he wanted to do the skydive because it had been on his brother’s bucket list.
“He had spoken about wanting to do a skydive and that’s a big part of my motivation for doing this. I’m taking part knowing that Joel wanted to do it,” he said.
Donations have topped £28,000 so far and more money is still coming in, which is great news for the charity after income was hit by the pandemic. The jump was due to take place last year on the fifth anniversary, but had to be postponed, along with a host of other fundraising events.
The skydive will be held at Whitchurch Airfield, Whitchurch, Shropshire, from 8am on Saturday, July 3.
To donate visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/jumpforjoel
To find out more about Smile For Joel, visit smile https://smileforjoel.com/
Suzy with Joel and Owen