#mybrave Abseil

Diane Graham

Looking through upcoming events earlier this year, one in particular caught my attention. They were looking for ‘fearless fundraisers’ to take part in a sponsored abseil from the Arcelor Mittal Orbit in London’s Olympic Park. I’ve been involved in fundraising for many years, but was I fearless! I thought about it for a while. Could I? Should I? The only slightly daring thing I’d done was paragliding in The French Alps. I mentioned to people at Tadworth that I was thinking of doing it, then one day when I was there someone told me there were only four places left. Thinking about all the challenges the children face, and about my son Nicholas who had been unable to do anything for himself, there was really no choice. As soon as I got home I filled in the form and set up a Virgin Giving page, so there was no going back. Now all I had to do was wait for people to sponsor me, and turn up on the day. I got really excited every time I received an email from Virgin telling me another friend had sponsored me, although some thought I must be crazy. On 11 of June my husband Bill and I set off for Stratford. When I’d talked about it, it was as though I was talking about someone else, now it was really happening. Here I was kitted up in harness and helmet, up in the lift and on the platform. While I was waiting for my turn a group of ladies, who were there for the view, asked me if I was doing it for charity. I never miss an opportunity to tell people about The Children’s Trust, and this occasion was no exception. I was so touched when one the ladies handed me a £10 note.   Instructor Adam told me what to do: feet either side of the bar, lean back, take one foot over the edge then the other. Leaning back into emptiness and taking my feet over the edge, was a bit scary. Part of me was saying I couldn‘t do it, another part was telling me I had to; so many people had sponsored me, I couldn’t let them down. It’s the UK’s highest free fall abseil, so it was just me, a rope and a great view of The City. I didn’t find the descent daunting at all. I could see Bill far below on the ground, then I spotted my son Dominic. I hadn’t seen him before I went up, so thought he hadn’t turned up because he had overslept. I screamed his name as loudly as I could, took one hand off the rope and waved. He didn’t see or hear me, but a lot of other people waved! A bit further down I tried again, and this time he saw me. All of a sudden I was back on the ground, photo taken, certificates given, sense of achievement.  At home a couple of hours later, it all felt slightly surreal. It was only then that Bill told me he had been a bit worried when I decided to do it, but hadn’t wanted to put me off taking part! I posted photos on Facebook, prompting more people to sponsor me. I really admire the dedication shown by everyone at The Children’s Trust, and I’m so glad I decided to take part in the abseil.