AN ANIMAL-LOVER from Shinfield raised almost £2,000 for veterinary medicine research through a skydive.

Simon Rymes launched himself out of a plane on May 26 to help fund projects, equipment and research in pioneering fields of animal medicine.

He was jumping as an ambassador of animal charity, The Rumba Foundation.

After Simon lost his beloved dog, Alfie, to prostate cancer last year, he decided to seek out any organisations working to save or extend the lives of animals.

Simon said: "I had taken Alfie to three specialists in the hope of finding a cure, but the only treatment available would have prolonged his life for just a few weeks.

"Even so, I knew that cancer doesn't always have to mean a death sentence for pets."

After researching several charities, Simon discovered The Rumba Foundation - which funds some of the most technically advanced surgery and therapies for small animals suffering potentially life-threatening illnesses.

One of Rumba's staggering donations of £50,000 has enabled the purchase of a C-arm fluoroscope, an X-ray system that allows the clinician to see a real-time X-ray 'movie' of moving structures of the body on a TV-type monitor.

It was delivered to the Oncology and Soft Tissue centre at Fitzpatrick Referrals animal hospital in Guildford.

Having met and been impressed by Rumba's trustees, Simon and his partner Sherry became ambassadors for the charity.

Fast forward a few months, and Simon was soon climbing into an aircraft at the Hinton airfield in Northampton.

It was his first step towards taking a 13,000 ft leap into the air, in support of the charity's fundraising mission.

The skydive had originally been scheduled for a few weeks earlier, but when the day came, it had to be cancelled due to bad weather.

Even when Simon got the go-ahead for May 26, he had to wait around for several hours to make absolutely sure the conditions were right.

"During those tense hours, my emotions were pretty mixed as we didn’t know for certain that the weather would let us do the jump, so it was a relief to finally get the all-clear," he said.

"My nerves were calm until I got near the door of the plane and then I had a flutter of panic.

"But once I was flying through the clouds, it was obvious there was no turning back.

"I just kept thinking about Alfie during those 60 seconds of free fall.

"To be honest, I don’t like heights, so it was a big challenge for me.

"But once I was back on the ground, I was overjoyed to have been able to raise a substantial amount of money in Alfie's honour.

"It was so worthwhile – I may even consider having another go in the future."

Simon covered the costs of the skydive himself and succeeded in raising almost £2,000, including gift aid.

On the day, he was supported by one of The Rumba Foundation's Founding Trustees, Jim Hindle, as well as his family and friends.

Jim said: "Everyone at Rumba is so grateful to Simon.

"The funds he has raised will have a direct impact on the lives of animals.

"And what a brilliant tribute to his special dog, Alfie!"

You can visit Simon's JustGiving page