HUNDREDS of teddy bears took a leap of faith when they made a sponsored parachute jump from Rayleigh’s tallest building.

The event, in its second year, was held at Holy Trinity Church to raise money for repairs to the historic building.

About £350,000 needs to be raised to fix the tower and five windows in the 600-year-old Grade II-listed building.

Youngsters took their various cuddly toys, wearing professionally-made parachutes, to the top of the 70ft tower. More than 1,000 visitors, and passing motorists, watched as 324 cuddly parachutists made their descent.

At the bottom, ‘paratedics’ were ready to catch the toys as they landed around the tower. There was even a first aid tent where they were bandaged up if they had been damaged during their airborne journey.

The Rector of Rayleigh, Rev Mike Lodge, said: “It was absolutely fantastic, a wonderful family day with a relaxed, joyful atmosphere.

“It brought a bit of a standstill to the town, as people driving by slowed down to watch.

“It was great to see all the children walking up the High Street with their bears.”

Mr Lodge said £3,800 has been raised so far from the jump. “We are very grateful to everyone who came along and contributed,” he added.

The church’s fundraising project is called Project 350, and involves a number of fundraising events taking place this year.

English Heritage has promised Holy Trinity £109,000 if members can raise a further £50,000 by the end of the year, and the teddy parachutists helped in this aim.

For more information on Project 350, go to