Mother and son take on skydiving challenge to thank children’s hospice

Charlie Wilson-Mew wanted to do something memorable for his 18th birthday in September. So instead of going on holiday or out for drinks with friends, he decided on skydiving with his mum, Diane Wilson (54), and raised over £1,300 for Chestnut Tree House, the children’s hospice that currently supports his twin brother Jack.

Twins Charlie and Jack, from Fareham in Hampshire, were born six weeks premature after a normal pregnancy. “Both were a decent weight, so we had no idea that anything was wrong with Jack,” says Diane. “The doctors thought all the issues he had with feeding and not meeting any of his milestones were due to him being premature.

“But we knew something wasn’t right. Jack had many different tests and eventually the genetics department at Great Ormond Street Hospital gave us the devastating news that he had a chromosome disorder. They said he was unlikely to be able to walk, talk, sit, understand, or feed normally and would need a gastrostomy. He was likely to have epilepsy and life expectancy was uncertain – so it was all pretty bleak.”

The doctors were correct in their expectations, and Jack also has poor vision. “But it’s certainly not bleak!” says Diane. “He is a beautiful boy, full of smiles and general loveliness. He’s at his happiest with music playing and people stroking his hand – he loves anything tactile. He giggles a lot and loves to be tickled. He’s very calm, laid-back, and happy, but he has also shown how much strength he has when things have got very scary with seizures, operations, and sepsis. He has shown what a strong fighter he is!”

The family’s community nurse referred them to Chestnut Tree House when Jack was four years old. Initially, Diane was too nervous for Jack to stay over on his own so she and her other two sons, Harry and Charlie, would stay in a family room upstairs. “I knew I could nip down to see Jack whenever I wanted (which was a lot!) and be reassured he was okay and being looked after really well. It was so nice for us to be able to stop, breathe and relax a bit, and we were cared for and fed very well too. As he got older, I felt confident leaving Jack at Chestnut Tree House for longer stays on his own, knowing I could call to check whenever I wanted and would never be made to feel I was a nuisance.” 

As the twins’ 18th birthday approached, Charlie decided he wanted to do something memorable which would include Jack. “We thought it would be cool to raise some money for Chestnut Tree House to give something back on his behalf,” says Diane. “It makes a massive difference to lots of families. With so many hospital appointments and doctors, nurses and therapists coming to the house, life can feel very hectic. Going to Chestnut allows you to step back and catch your breath, and the staff truly are angels.”

Diane and Charlie took on their skydive challenge on Saturday 3 September – two days before Charlie and Jack’s 18th birthday and raised £1,390 for Chestnut Tree House.

Find out more if you’ve been inspired by this story and would like to take part in an event!

Photo montage of Charlie, his brother and mum