Baby Thomas was grandmother's inspiration for sky dive challenge

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A grandmother, who has been scared of heights all her life, conquered her fear for a friend and work colleague who she describes as her "inspiration."

Carole MacDonald, of Albion Street, Burnley, had vowed to do a sky dive to raise money into a condition known as Necrotizing Enterocolitis, a serious bowel condition that her colleague Jolene Swain's son, Thomas was born with 23 weeks prematurely, weighing just 1lbs 3oz.

And the promise to complete the challenge became even more poignant when baby Thomas died in December aged just 10 months old.

Carole, who is 62 and has thee children and is grandmother to two, said: "It was such a devastating and sad time and it made it even more important for me to do the sky dive."

Carole completed the tandem sky dive at Tilstock Airfield in Shropshire wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Thomas on it.

And while she will admit to enjoying the thrill of it, it was definitely her first and last!

Tiny tot Thomas Swain, who died at the age of 10 months, after a battling major  illnesses when he was born 26 weeks prematurely.

Tiny tot Thomas Swain, who died at the age of 10 months, after a battling major illnesses when he was born 26 weeks prematurely.

So far Carole has raised the superb total of £1,270 which will go towards helping the families of children born with NEC. It will also be used to create a room for parents at the Ronald McDonald house at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital where Jolene and her husband Chris stayed during Thomas' treatment.

Carole works as team leader for Alternative Futures Group in Burnley with Jolene, an area manager, and they have known each other for nine years.

Carole, who lives with her husband Ian, added: "Jolene has been my inspiration for all this.

"The way she and Chris have dealt with losing Thomas has been so courageous.

"When I did the sky dive and I felt nervous Jolene told me I would have my own little angel in Thomas watching over me."

A true little fighter Thomas amazed medical staff with his strength and ability to bounce back and keep fighting.

Carole said: "I am proud of the amount I have raised to provide a room in Thomas' name to benefit other parents who need this facility to be with their children when they are ill."

A group of colleagues from Alternative Futures Group, which provides support to people with mental health needs and learning disabilities, are now planning to take part in the Tough Mudder challenge for the same causes. To sponsor them log onto the justgiving page and search for Amanda Hartley.

Anyone who would like to help fund the room is asked to send donations in Thomas' name to Ronald McDonald House, Hathersage Rd, Manchester M13 0BH.