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Gem does the Worthing Birdman Pt. II

(by Gemma Pickett, Birdman Flyer and 30 before 30 victim)

When Lauren first told me about this venture, some 18 months ago, I don’t think she’ll mind me saying that I was a little surprised. Having spent her adult life to date thus far in the world of academia, setting up a cake shop seemed about as far removed as you could get. However, once she’d explained her vision of helping the local community, with a particular emphasis on young people in Worthing, it all made more sense. – this was more than your regular coffeehouse. Having seen how she’s got Baked off the ground from early conception to the growing success it is becoming, I couldn’t be prouder or more impressed.

Anyway, enough of the gush…let’s rewind back to September 2013. I’d just got the keys to my new house (I hadn’t moved in yet but was doing some decorating) and decided it would be a timely opportunity to have a moving in/birthday shindig at the new pad, before I got the carpets laid. At said party Lauren presented me with two unforgettable items. The first, a Spiced Apple and Brown Sugar cake that I’d cunningly annotated in a book I’d given her the Christmas before, as a ‘must try’ (it was incredible by the way). The second, a list of activities to do before my 30th birthday. Thirty things in one year; the thirty before thirty. This list had inputs from friends and family and ranged from completing a 1000 piece puzzle to eating in a Michelin starred restaurant. It’s safe to say, the one that excited us all the most, was ‘to enter the Worthing Birdman’ (thanks for that one, Mel!).

 

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As the months went by and the event opened for applications, it was time to step up to the mark (literally). We agreed I would be a flying cupcake, sponsored by Baked. I say ‘we’…I think Lauren and Mel just thought of the most embarrassing outfit they could. Over numerous evenings of wine (and cake), we laughed at all the things that could go wrong…the outfit would fall off, I’d end up on the promenade in front of thousands of people naked…I’d swallow water…throw up…maybe even drown. But I was not going to quit. We ordered an outfit online and set up the sponsorship page for the two local organisations we wanted to support, The Worthing Foyer and Blueprint 22 – what could go wrong!?

When the outfit arrived, five days before the jump, the ‘one size fits all’ happened to be a UK 6-8. It resembled something a 4ft child would wear to a primary school fancy dress party. I was going to end up naked on Worthing seafront. I’d probably make the local news with a picture of my backside on the front page (one of my 30 before 30 was to get in the news, but this wasn’t what had in mind!). Needless to say, panic set in. Followed by frantic shopping and further purchasing – a backup costume and a wet suit.

 

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On the day, I felt sick. I’d had a vodka tonic before 11am (just the one, mind you – health and safety first obviously). I was most nervous about the three minutes on the platform and the performance. So much so, I hadn’t really thought about the jump itself.

When it came close to my turn, I headed round to the platform to be greeted by the Birdman team, saying I needed to go up early. No time to think about it. Straight up there. And there I stayed. For twenty minutes. That has to be a Birdman record! The poor woman before me had landed awkwardly and needed to be taken back to shore. So my three minute fear became a twenty minute nightmare. It’s really hard to talk into a microphone, on camera, and not poo your pants with thousands of people watching you when you’re 35ft up. For anyone who was there, I apologise. It can’t have been much fun watching me making Lewis (the interviewer) do lunges and star jumps because we’d run out of conversation. I even got my other half, Mark, in on the action and spoke on his behalf to be in the Birdman next year – sorry Mark.

 

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Finally it was jump time, I just ran. Well I thought it was a run but in fact, turned out to be more of a gallop. Hey ho – I was off. I did it. People have asked me what it was like. To be honest, I don’t remember it being especially cold (good call on the wetsuit), I didn’t hurt anything (at the time), all I remember is feeling like I was on Oblivion at Alton Towers and left my stomach at the top of a 66ft vertical drop. The following week, I was walking like I’d been hit by a train – my body didn’t know what had hit it. But it was all for a great cause.

I’m still collecting sponsorship for The Foyer and Blueprint-22, so if you can, dig deep and support these fab organisations that are doing some great with young people in Worthing.  But failing that, make sure you get yourselves to Baked for some truly fantastic cake and coffee. You won’t regret it.

 

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