A DEDICATED stepfather will test his fear of heights by jumping out of a plane to raise cash for the charity helping his stepson.

James Denny, 27, is aiming to raise hundreds of pounds for Heartline, which provides information and support to children with heart disorders, including tiny Louis McAuley.

Doctors diagnosed Louis with congenital heart defects when his mum Claire went for her first scan and he will need regular check-ups for the rest of his life.

Speaking before Louis went into hospital this week for open heart surgery - just a week after he celebrated his first birthday last Thursday [4] - James said: "I have a bit of a problem with heights but I've always found parachuting interesting, so I thought this would be a significant challenge for me. I really want to raise the profile of the charity, which provides so much help to families and makes them feel they are not alone. I need to raise about �600, but I'm hoping to get to �800."

James, a railway signalman who lives in Hartland Road, Whitley, with partner Claire and three-year-old daughter Emily, has opted to test his nerves by choosing a freefall skydive, where adrenaline seekers spend a day training before performing a solo jump.

James said: "Through the journey that has been the Louis' first year, we have met and talked to other 'heart families' and the story is so often the same.

"No matter what the personal circumstances, many of us are united in a common sense of bewilderment, or what next? The constant worry and uncertainty will inevitably put a strain on many families and this is where Heartline comes in. We knew from the first scan that Louis had heart problems, so we are lucky really, because it was picked up early. He was born in Oxford and whisked away from us straight away, and we were told he may have to go to the specialists in Southampton, but he was home ahead of target and has been very strong.

"I'd like to complete the jump before my daughter Emily's fourth birthday on August 26, that's my target."

James has raised �230 so far. Sponsor him at www.justgiving.com/comparetheparachute