Kettering dad faces his fear of heights for daughter with incurable brain tumour

Rab Anderson doing his skydive
Rab Anderson doing his skydive

A dad faced his fears to jump out of a plane and raise money to fund research into the disease his daughter is fighting so bravely.

Catherine Anderson, 36, who was born in Glasgow, raised in Corby and now lives in Uppingham, has an incurable malignant brain tumour.

Rab Anderson with daughter Cat

Rab Anderson with daughter Cat

But the bravery of Cat, who is also known as ‘Cat in a Hat’ because she wears an assortment of different hats, has inspired family and friends to raise more than £10,000 in just a few months.

They have now set up a fundraising group under the umbrella of UK charity Brain Tumour Research to fund research into the disease.

Cat’s dad Rab Anderson, 56, of Garfield Street, Kettering, joined in with the fundraising by jumping out of a plane at Sibson Airfield near Peterborough last month.

He’d always said he would never consider skydiving or doing a bungee jump because of his extreme fear of heights.

My skydive was nothing compared to what Cat faces every day

Rab Anderson

But when friend Alan Brown of Windmill Street, Kettering, said he was doing a skydive, Rab felt he had steel himself to join his mate and conquer his own fears.

He said: “Cat has had to face all sorts of fears while being treated for her incurable condition – before her diagnosis she had always been terrified of needles.

“So one day when I was having lunch at Addenbrooke’s Hospital with Cat and marvelling at how brave and matter of fact she was being yet again about her treatment, I decided there was no excuse not to do the skydive.

“In the run-up to the day I often found myself waking in a cold sweat having nightmares about throwing myself out of a plane.

Cat Anderson

Cat Anderson

“At the airfield, I tried to detach myself and tell myself that this was just a nice family day out.

“Having been given a 10-minute briefing and then being put into my harness by my tandem instructor however, it started to feel very real.

“There was no turning back and I felt like a condemned man on his way to the gallows.

“The plane seemed like a little transit van with wings.

“Alan and I were joined by two friends, Gemma Brudenell, who had already completed her first ever half marathon inspired by Cat, and Anne McKim.

“We were packed into two rows with instructors and camera men and it was really noisy climbing up through the clouds.

“All the time I was trying to keep a lid on my terror while thinking I’m going to be hurtling back down through them very soon.

“When I jumped out of the plane we rolled about quite violently for some time, just like being in a tumble dryer, before my instructor managed to level us out.

“He gave me the signal to put my arms out and then we were free-falling at 120 miles per hour, although strangely it felt like we were just hanging as you have no reference points being so high up.

“All the while we had a cameraman floating in front of us.

“When the chute was pulled we went from 120 to 10 miles an hour in just four seconds.

“At this point the instructor thought it would be fun to do some acrobatics so I found myself doing loops.

“I could see Peterborough below me and then thankfully the landing field.

“It was a brilliant but terrifying experience.”

He added: “I had told myself it was a once in a life-time experience to raise awareness for a cause very close to my heart.

“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research is allocated to this devastating disease.

“This is unacceptable.

“Cat knows her condition is incurable, but remains very positive and does not want to know about her prognosis in terms of time.

“She is incredible in her attitude and remains her beautiful, bouncy self.

“Her attitude is both humbling and inspiring.

“My skydive was nothing compared to what she faces every day.”

Carol Robertson, head of community fundraising at Brain Tumour Research, said: “We are indebted to Cat’s family and friends for their dedication to fundraising and raising awareness of this devastating disease.

“They are all helping to make a vital difference.

“We are striving to fund a network of seven dedicated research centres whilst challenging the government and larger cancer charities to invest more in brain tumour research.”

Brain Tumour Research helps fund an annual £1 million programme of research at its Centre of Excellence at the University of Portsmouth.

Further partnerships announced last year with Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College, plus Plymouth University will pave the way for a £20 million investment in brain tumour research over the next five years.

To donate go to Rab and Cat in a Hat’s fundraising page at