What are the words no one wants to hear their parachuting instructor say as they are freefalling through the sky at 120mph? ‘We have a problem.’ Unfortunately, that is what happened to brave Cheryl Palmer-Hughes (pictured), a 27-year-old trainee at the Birmingham office of national firm Irwin Mitchell, after she had just jumped out of an aeroplane at 10,000 feet on her first ever tandem skydive. The parachute had failed to open and the ground was racing closer. Palmer-Hughes’ first jump, to raise funds for a new baby unit at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, was looking likely to be the last thing she ever did. But fortunately the budding solicitor is made of stern stuff. ‘The instructor had to get rid of the failed parachute and then open the reserve,’ she tells Obiter. ‘It was the longest 10 seconds of my life.’ Palmer-Hughes says that, although the adrenaline rush was ‘fantastic’, she will steer clear of parachute jumping from now on, having tempted fate enough. ‘The poor instructor must have been worried having a lawyer attached to him,’ she added. Surely a glittering career in the law must lie ahead for anyone who can see litigation opportunities in freefalling 10,000 feet on to the unforgiving soil of the West Midlands.