Our brave volunteers actually went through with the charity abseil for H.A.D! The challenge became known as 'Mike Drop' – and Mike dropped! And we raised £1,500 for H.A.D!
It is a warm yet overcast morning in August and a group of work friends and their families gather in front of the colossal red twisted metal tower that is the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower in London's Olympic Park. A few photos and words of encouragement before four members of the group say their goodbyes and walk solemnly into the tower entrance. The calm before the epic storm that will see them step backwards off a small ledge 282 feet high into nothing but thin air.
We are inside getting rigged up and trying to take in the safety briefing. Our heads are swimming but we need to concentrate. After all, if we don't do as this guy says we could fall to our death. We are ready to go and in the lift going up. Stepping out onto the viewing platform it is breath taking; the views are breath taking, the thought that we about to step out into that view takes our breath away.
You have to go in pairs. There's lots of pacing up and down, we can't back out now...can we? Who's going first? Two of the team step (get pushed) forward. With just a few ropes to save them from plummeting to the hard ground below, we say our goodbyes and they take those (possibly) final steps off the edge.
This is a freefall abseil. This is the highest freefall abseil in the UK. 282 feet high – that's nearly a 30 storey building!
"Who's next?" call the instructors. We step forward. It's OK, nobody has died doing this – we asked the safety guy earlier. It's too late now anyway. "Step back... step back.... lean out.... sit back into the harness." We are out. Hanging off the edge. We have done the hard part! Oh, hold on.... NOW for the moment of truth. We have walked down the short ledge and then our next step is on to... Nothing. Taking THAT step is the hardest. Your brain asks your feet "Do you want to step on to nothing? Really? Why? Why would you want to do that?" Well, you have nowhere else to go now. The only way is down.
So, we just drop!!
WOW what an experience! We are so high up we can't hear the cheering below. You have to look down. It is surreal. Petrifying. Beautiful. But also kind of peaceful. And all for a brilliant cause. As we get closer the ground we can hear our family and friends cheering us on. It's good to hear - not least because it indicates the first two made it safely to the ground but also because we are almost there too!
And finally...we all make it safely down. Some very wobbly legs and a stiff drink later and we pat ourselves on the back. WE DID IT!
All in the name of charity
Pinney Talfourd chose Havering Association for People with Disabilities (H.A.D) as our charity of the year 2019/20 and this abseil challenge has raised nearly £1,500 so far. Donations are still coming in and our fundraising page will be open until mid-September so you still have time to donate on our Fundraising Page!
Find out more about H.A.D and our work with them on our Charity of the Year page.