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AM100 boss leaps from 10,000 feet in new fundraising initiative for BEN

A severe fear of heights has not prevented the boss of AM100 group Marshall Motors from jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet to launch a new motor industry charity initiative.

Chief executive Daksh Gupta’s leap of faith - strapped to a professional skydiver in the sky above Northamptonshire - launches the Industry Leader Challenge on behalf of BEN.

He plans to raise £100,000 for the charity, before passing on the challenge to another dealer boss, who, feeding on the highly competitive nature of the sector, should aim to raise even more money for BEN. They will undertake a similar pulse racing task in 2017.

Gupta’s tandem parachute jump takes place on June 22 at Hinton Skydive Centre at 9am (weather permitting).

Explaining his chosen challenge, Gupta said: “I have a deep fear of heights, always have done. Marshall has businesses in Grimsby and Hull and whenever drive over the Humber Bridge, I won’t look left or right over the edge.

“So, in the spirit of choosing an activity that challenges my fears, pushes me outside my comfort zone - a parachute jump seemed perfect.”

He was inspired to help by former Marshall director Sarah Sillars, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for BEN in 2010, raising £38,000. “She’s been encouraging me for years to do something,” he said.

Gupta is also a longstanding supporter of BEN.

He is its vice-president and was instrumental in the founding of Dealers Backing BEN in 2010. This allows dealers to give £1 to BEN from the sale proceeds of each car sold through auction. It has so far raised £1 million.

“I was adopted as a child and despite the unsettled beginning to my life I have been given amazing opportunities by the automotive trade, from my beginnings washing cars in a dealership on Sundays, to where I am today. The trade has been good to me personally, and my family. It is only right to give back,” Gupta said.

He already has commitments totalling £20,000 in sponsorship for the parachute jump.

David Main, BEN’s chief executive, said: “We are very grateful to Daksh for being the first to take on such a formidable challenge – it’s certainly not for the faint hearted.

"All the funds raised from this and future challenges will enable BEN to reach more people in the industry and continue providing practical support, advice and guidance to ensure long-lasting, positive outcomes.”

A second executive has volunteered to do their part in the annual challenge, in 2017. Their name will be made public at the BEN Ball in December.

The support comes as BEN reveals demand for its services is increasing.

In 2015/16 BEN responded to an 81% in the number of enquiries to its helpline compared to 2014/15. The total number of people BEN helped across the year is about 3,000. Approximately 80% of those it helps are of working age (16-65).

> To donate to Gupta's 'industry leader's challenge' for BEN go to www.justgiving.com/Daksh-Gupta/

> The website for the Industry Leader Challenge: www.industryleaderchallenge.org.uk

> Learn more about BEN

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