Network Rail depot staff to help Marcela’s mission to fight Lupus disease with sponsored skydive

Ely Network Rail sky diver's, fundraising for Lupus,

Ely Network Rail sky diver's, fundraising for Lupus, - Credit: Archant

Staff from the Ely depot of Network Rail are to jump out of a plane thousands of feet above the ground to try and raise money for a charity that has helped one of their colleagues fight a debilitating disease.

Marcela Sands was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythemotosus, commonly knows as Lupus disease, eight months ago.

Lupus can cause fatigue, joint pain, skin inflammation and sensitivity to light, and Marcela was diagnosed with the disease after she visited the opticians last year.

She said: “It all started when I went for a company routine eye check. The optician found I had a build-up of pressure behind my left eye and wanted to refer me immediately to the local eye hospital for further investigation.

“I had to undergo MRI scans which luckily ruled out any brain tumours, but then I was sent to the neurology department for more investigations which involved blood and kidney function tests and three very painful lumbar punctures.

“I’m currently under several consultants at seven hospitals around the region.”

Since her diagnosis, Marcela has vowed to raise money for the St Thomas’ Lupus Fund, which has helped her cope with her condition, and her supportive staff have rallied around to get the fund raising get going.

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Marcela and her colleagues raised £1,026 from a coffee morning held at the Ely Depot last Tuesday, and they are hoping to raise £8,000 through a number of events – starting with a big skydive.

“20 of the team will be doing the skydive, organised by my colleague, Rachel Ebbens,” Marcela said. “Obviously I can’t do it, but they’re all doing it in Sibson in Peterborough on August 12.”

Marcela and her colleagues have raised over £3,000 so far, and are looking to add to that total with a packed schedule of events throughout 2016, including a racy calendar involving the depot’s male staff.

Marcela said: “We started a name the bear competition recently, and we’re also going to get some of the lads here involved in a raunchy calendar that we’re going to sell in July.

“We’ve got a photographer to come down and take photos of the lads on the tracks, and I’m sure there will be a lot of strategically placed items at the shoot!”

For more information on Lupus, visit, or to donate visit