Daredevils make the leap for charity

MORE than 400 fearless fundraisers have taken the plunge and abseiled down a 130ft wall at Ipswich Hospital.

MORE than 400 fearless fundraisers have taken the plunge and abseiled down a 130ft wall at Ipswich Hospital.

Army wives and NHS executives were among those to descend the nine storeys of the Maternity ward over the weekend, with thousands of pounds in sponsorship pledged to a raft of national and local charities.

The first to go over the top at just after 8am on Saturday morning was Andrew Reed, the hospital's chief executive.

Mr Reed, who was watched from below by his daughters, was carefully strapped into a harness and safety belt before taking the lift to the top floor and heading out onto the roof.

After a quick safety lesson, he got into position at the summit and slowly lowered himself over the edge before abseiling his way back down to the ground.

Hundreds more followed him over the course of the two days and Mr Reed said it was the first time he had ever been on the roof of the ward building, the highest part of the hospital.

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He said; “It looks much higher from the top than it does from down below!

“I hadn't been worried about it all until the point when they asked me to lean back and step over the side of the building. But it all feels perfectly safe and it they (the abseil staff) give you the feeling that you have done it 100 times before.”

Mr Reed said the �200 in sponsorship he has raised would go to the hospital's Happy Hearts appeal, which has a �45,000 target in order to pay for a heart scanner at the site.

The abseil was run by Mega and organiser Frank Turmel said that with a training area up on the roof and the advice of a team of experts, very few people ever pulled out.

He said: “We're very proud of our refusal rate. We run the abseil here for the same principal as the London Marathon - they pay an entry fee but any sponsor money raised by the individuals goes to their chosen charity.”

Among those raising cash over the weekend was Clare Wiltshire, who has been seeking sponsorship for Help for Heroes.

Mrs Wiltshire's husband Richard was a member of the Black Watch and she felt compelled to complete the abseil to help injured soldiers and their families.

She said: “Richard was a captain in the Black Watch and served in the Falklands and the Gulf War. Last year he brought me 'Hero the Bear' and since then we as a family have supported Help for Heroes.”

She has so far raised more than �500, much of which was donated by Hadleigh Rugby Club members.

Also making the descent was Mandy Dellar, 42, from Kesgrave, who was raising money for Heathside School in Ipswich, where her son Daniel is a pupil.

Daniel, aged six, has epilepsy, severe global delay and autistic spectrum disorder.

She said: “I was told he would never walk but he started at Heathside and within two weeks he was walking. I just though I wanted to do something for them - the people there are really nice and the children are absolutely lovely.”

Mrs Dellar has so far raised more than �600 for the minibus fund and hopes to collect even more over the summer.

OVER the past 14 years thousands of people have taken part in the charity abseil and between them raised more than �1.5million.

The 130ft challenge is one of the highest organised by Mega and so far in excess of 350 different national and local organisations have benefited from sponsorship collected by those taking the plunge.

People pay �20 to register in advance for the abseil and then collect donations that they pledge to their chosen charity. Once they reach the top, very few ever back out, with only two or three people turning back over the years.