Football star takes the plunge for friend

A Sunderland football star has swapped the pitch for a plane to raise £600 for the charity that helped her close friend survive a heart condition.

Rachel Furness, 25, from Washington, completed the 13,500ft parachute jump for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) at Peterlee Airfield, in Durham, on Saturday.

She was joined by another close friend Abby Jones, 25, from Heworth, in the daredevil feat.

The Sunderland Ladies midfielder said: “I felt amazing. The whole experience seemed so surreal.

“I couldn’t believe what I was doing and seeing – the sky looked so beautiful.

“I loved every minute of it and I hope I will raise some more money after the jump.”

Rachel did the jump for a close friend of hers who recently recovered from a heart condition thanks to the help of the British Heart Foundation.

But she also did it in honour of her granddad who died from a heart attack nine years ago and who fostered her to play football.

“I said to my instructor it’s the closest I’ll get to heaven anytime soon, hopefully, so my granddad popped into my head.

“My granddad passed away from a massive heart attack and one of my closest friends’ sister also has a heart condition and is actually getting better now thanks to the BHF help. That’s what made me raise money for the charity,” said Rachel.

College teacher Abby said: “I’ve always wanted to do it. So I thought I would join Rachel to support her and tick it off my list.”

Beck Bayram, Events Project Manager at the BHF, said: “Every family is touched by heart disease in some way.

“Thanks to the support of people like Rachel, the BHF can fund life-saving research which could lead to a brighter future for so many people.

“Rachel is proof that anyone can be an action hero for the afternoon.”

The skydive was originally due on November 2 but had to be rescheduled for November 30 because of bad weather.

The 25-year-old footballer also plays for the Northern Ireland’s National Ladies’ team as a midfielder, which started nine years ago after her football coach at the time encouraged her to do it in honour of her grandfather’s Northern Irish roots.

Donnation in aid of Rachel’s cause can be made here.

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