A Falmouth mother-of-one with a fear of heights is to celebrate her 30th birthday by jumping out of a plane, hoping to raise £1,000 to enable her to send 1,000 shoeboxes to those in need this Christmas.

Cat Parker decided to forego a birthday party and is instead asking family and friends, and the wider community, to get behind her fundraising efforts which will see her tackle her first skydive on Sunday, October 15. She is raising money and awareness for Link to Hope’s Christmas Shoebox appeal.

"The appeal has always been close to my heart, as it really connects into the Christmas spirit of giving in a physical and emotional way that just giving money does not," said Cat, a support worker for adults with learning disabilities. "It is so lovely to put items in a shoebox and imagine a family or elderly person unwrapping it.

" I usually ask my friends and family for items for the shoeboxes as birthday presents, but this year being my 30th birthday I wanted to do something different. I thought about doing a marathon or Tuff Enuff race, but these seemed to be too much in my comfort zone. So I thought about what scares me the most."

Cat was soon booked in for the skydive. "Since then I have done my best not to think about it. When I imagine having to step out into the nothingness of thin air I feel physically paralysed. I am glad I will be strapped to someone as I genuinely don’t think I will be able to move of my own accord in that moment. I am proving to myself that I can achieve something I never thought that I could achieve."

Cat is hoping people will get behind her and help reach her £1,000 target. "A lot of the people who receive boxes have no electricity or running water, and have so very few possessions," she said. "These gifts make such a difference, bringing joy and hope and a sense of being valued and important.

"It didn’t seem fair to keep this to myself though, which is why I have started organising Christmas shoebox packing parties- which is also a wonderful excuse to eat cake."

Anyone interested in helping is invited along to Cat's next pack-a-shoebox party which will be held at Falmouth Rugby Club on Sunday, October 22, between 10am and 3pm. "You can donate items, help pack a shoebox or just come and enjoy a drink and some cake," she said.

You can sponsor Cat online at linktohopefundraisingpage.everydayhero.com/uk/sponsored-skydive.