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24 September 2014

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The bear-faced cheek of it!
Kevin,  Alan and teddy
Kevin Mole (L) and pilot Alan Meredith demonstrate the art of teddy bear parachuting
In an almost unbearable display of bravado, ten of the cutest, cuddliest teddy bears in the world threw themselves out of an aircraft in the name of charity...

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Love teddies? Then you'll love these bunnies
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  Pidley Mountain Rescue Team Charity Club

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Each month the Pidley Mountain Rescue club raises enough money to provide a piece of equipment to a local person with special needs.

PMR members are not mountaineers. They come from all walks of life including farmers, builders and policemen.

If you would like to make a donation to the Pidley Mountain Rescue charity, simply send your cheques to:
Pidley Village Social Club
Warboys Road
Nr Huntingdon
Cambs PE28 3DA

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The Pidley Mountain Rescue World Teddy Bear Freefall Parachute Jump
Next time you're trying to raise a little money for charity, take a leaf out of the book of the curiously-named Pidley Mountain Rescue Team. Not for them the agony of marathon running or the humdrum of the bring-and-buy sale.

Jason Bear
Jason Howard-bear following his parachute jump

No, siree. When it comes to raising dosh for the disabled in their local community, they come up with this one: freefall parachute jumping for teddy bears...

And so we find ourselves at Southview Farm in Pidley on a warm but cloudy Saturday morning, waiting for these brave little teddies to throw themselves willy-nilly from a high-flying Piper Cub plane, flown in specially from Lasham, in Hampshire, by its pilot, Alan Meredith.

At a glance...

Gil Boyd, Chairman of the Pidley Mountain Rescue (PMR) explains: "Ten bears, donated by the Bear Factory of Peterborough, will be jumping, one at a time, from the Piper Cub. Each bear is named after someone who has previously benefitted from PMR's help, and in turn, each bear has been sponsored for £200 by a commercial organisation - so we've already raised £2,000.

The marshalls
Smoke signalling wind direction

"We've taken the stuffing out of each bear - it was a painless operation - and weighted each one with five kilos of sand. There's a World War Two jeep in the middle of the field, and basically, whichever bear lands closest to the jeep will be the winner."

The bear essentials

And so, at 11am sharp, the plane took its first fly-past in order to determine wind speed and direction, and the teddies - in random order - made their jumps:

The first brave bear...
The first brave bear...

The first brave young bear was Thomas Grice-Bear - he'd travelled all the way from the USA, having been sponsored by a Florida business. In an almost vertical drop, he landed some way from target, in the middle of a strawberry patch - but the thrilled crowd whooped and cheered this truly international chappy.

He was closely followed by Kyran Palmer-Bear and Kieran Gallagher-Bear, both of whom landed within feet of the target, much to the delight of the visitors.

Joe Johnson-Bear was next to go, but his technique left a little to be desired, and he landed a good 30 feet from target.

Stephen, dad Kevin and Jack
Teddy-bear thrower Kevin Mole with sons Stephen (L) and Jack

The fifth bear to jump was William Whitticase-Bear. There was almost unbearable tension as his chute failed to open initially. The crowd gasped. "Don't look, don't look!" Shouted a man to his small children. But luckily, within seconds, the chute opened and William landed safely, far away across the field.

Jason Howard-Bear and William McGregor-Bear came next, the first landing face-down in the strawberry patch and the latter landing safely after initially twisting his parachute lines.

quote It's not an exact science, and the first one could hardly bear to jump. quote
Kevin Mole
(in charge of throwing the bears from the plane)

Robbie Hodgkin-Bear was next to leap, and in a stunning example of near-perfect technique he landed almost bang on target.

Finally came Tomas Price-Bear with a good attempt, but overshooting the jeep at the very last minute.

See the gallery >>

And the winner is...
Gil Boyd holds the winner aloft

And the winner?
Robbie Hodgkin-Bear took the honours with his near-perfect jump. He wins a luxury weekend away for his sponsors from Southend.

More about Pidley Mountain Rescue
Founded 30 years ago, you might be surprised to discover that PMR does not actually participate in mountain rescue of any kind. It has never even rescued anyone from a hillock, nor a small mound. It does, however, raise money tirelessly for the disabled in the community. Its aim is to provide equipment desperately needed by local people, rather than provide them with money.

This year's World Teddy Bear Freefall Parachute Jump will raise the funds necessary to purchase a special car seat for a four year-old girl who suffers from autism, and a car seat for a seriously disabled lady from Huntingdon.

See the gallery >>

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