A DARLINGTON woman is taking a giant leap for charity in memory of her sister.

Lisa Wakeford, 31, of Moorfield, will skydive next month in aid of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and is raising the money in memory of her sister Rachel who died aged 17 - three years after undergoing a heart transplant.

Miss Wakeford said that since Rachel’s death in 2004, she had been thinking about raising money for the BHF and has now decided to take the plunge.

“It is something I’ve spoken about doing for many years,” she said. “But speaking about it is very different to actually doing it.

“I am a bit nervous.

“I don’t mind heights, and I don’t mind being in a plane, but I don’t like spinning – and I’ve been watching footage of other jumps and there is a lot of spinning involved!”

Miss Wakeford said that if had not been for the BHF and the “excellent” treatment Rachel received at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, her sister would not have survived the initial life-threatening virus that attacked her heart.

She said that raising money through the charity skydive was her way of saying ‘thank you’.

Rachel was a 14-year-old pupil at Hummersknott School in Darlington when she was struck by the viral infection which caused the rare heart condition, cardiomyopathy.

She underwent a heart transplant and vowed to live life to the full; an attitude which saw her compete in the Youth British Transplant Games at Lightwater Valley near Ripon just six months after her operation.

Sadly, after three years Rachel’s body rejected the organ.

Miss Wakeford is skydiving from the Peterlee Parachute Centre on March 10 and anybody who would like to help her reach her £400 fundraising target can donate via the Just Giving website.