FUNDRAISING daredevils took to the skies over the weekend to raise money for HEALS of Malmesbury.

Eleven skydivers took the leap as part of the Local Hero campaign set up by Localgiving. Among them were a town councillor and three local firemen.

Each participant had to raise at least £350 each to take part in the sky dive; half of which went towards their dive fee.

Malmesbury Town Councillor, Ken Wright, said: “I’ve wanted to do a skydive for a while, so it seemed like a good opportunity when I was asked by HEALS to take part.

“HEALS is a very good local cause, and is something Malmesbury could have done with a long time ago.”

Holly Grant also took part in the dive. She said: “It was without a doubt one of the best things I have ever done with my life; it was also done for the best cause.

“HEALS of Malmesbury is a fantastically honourable and kind charity, which is very close to my heart, so it was an absolute privilege to do the jump on their behalf.

“Thank you so much to all of you who sponsored me; it meant the absolute world.”

Local fireman, Ollie Smith, has served his community for 15 years and decided to do the sponsored dive as a send off to his time in public service.

“Being an on-call firefighter is a huge commitment and I’m really proud to have served for fifteen years in this community,” he said.

“I wanted to mark the occasion by doing something that would benefit other people. Heals is very important to everyone in Malmesbury, so signing up for their charity skydive just seemed a great idea.”

Two of Ollie’s fire service colleagues Sam Pyne and Alex Reid joined him for the sky dive.

Alison Cross-Jones, volunteer general manager at HEALS, said: “Most of those involved smashed the £350 mark required to jump and raised way more.

“A number of businesses throughout June had collection pots which also helped us raise much needed funds.”

The sky dive was raising money to fund Will’s Friends, a replacement for a bridging project previously in place in Malmesbury.

Will’s Friends, run by HEALS, helps provide people with learning and social difficulties a safe environment to socialise and feel part of the community.

“There used to be bridging project, which was a one night a week club for 12-18 year olds” said Alison.

“It’s been abolished now; however Malmesbury’s youth officer is keen to bring it back.”

Will’s Friends is in honour of Will Filer, who spent his early years in Malmesbury where he attended the original bridging project, before moving to Chippenham with his family.

He had his heart set on becoming a soldier after enrolling at an Army Preparation Course at Wiltshire College.

However, on completion of the course, he found that it was not possible to join the army due to his autism. The news was devastating to Will and he committed suicide aged 18 in 2010.

Will leaves behind a lasting legacy through Will’s Friends which provides hope for the future to all those with a hidden disability and autism.

There are Wills Friends groups for ages 11-14, 15-19 and for adults, all of which need significant funding to help reach those who need support.

“These groups are important for making people know they’re not on their own,” Alison continued.

“A lot of young people consider doing what William did as that’s their best option; we have to show them there’s a way out.

“They can start to lead very isolated lives and these groups are about helping them make friends and build confidence, in order to lead more fulfilling lives.

“I know firsthand how difficult it is for parents to get the support, so we’re here to help those who need it.

“The money we’re raising will help these groups reach more people in the local community.

“The sky dive is nowhere need what we’ll need however as each group requires £5,000 a year.

“We’ll continue fundraising to make the dream become a reality.”

Fundraising was supposed to stop at the end of June however, Localgiving was so impressed by HEALS’ efforts and the support of the local community, that their deadline was extended an extra month, meaning donations are still being accepted up until July 31.

To donate visit more information.