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24 September 2014

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Scaling the dizzy heights for charity.
Smile they said! You try smiling when you're on the end of a rope 200 feet above the city!
You see my smile looks out of place,
If you look closer it's
easier to trace,
The tracks of my tears!
(With apologies to Smokey Robinson)
On the weekend of 11th and 12th May, around 300 people took part in a sponsored abseil from the top of the Plymouth Civic Centre building.

Craig Wilkinson was one of those who took part and compiled this feature for BBC Devon.

Gliding over Dartmoor
Extreme Sports
Ten Tors 2002


National Caving Association

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The fundraising event was in support of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and I agreed to take the plunge. This is an account of my fear bashing exercise!

I had hounded friends and family to raise sponsorship for my jump (at least £75 was required to take part) and the day had finally arrived. My time was to be 4.00pm on Saturday.

It's a long way up

The views were awesome going over the edge

So, after paying my cheque, it was not long before we were ushered into a large room for a pretty extensive training session.

Once completed, it was time to get the lift up to the roof, which, quite alarmingly, is on the 14th floor. Once outside, although raining heavily and blowing a gale, the views of the city were awesome, but for some reason it was difficult to fully appreciate them....!

It was only a few minutes before I was told to lean backwards over the ledge that towers 200 feet over the city below.

Having forgotten just about all of my extensive training, I stepped up onto the ledge, turned around and looked down. I could see matchbox-sized cars and buses and spectators the size of ants.

It's difficult to describe the feeling you get at this stage. Breathing becomes heavy and every movement you make is definite.

Going over the edge the views are awesome
Getting more confident with
every bounce

Once the trainer had prized my sweaty palms from his coat lapels, I was on my way down!

Once I had taken a few short bounces, my confidence began to rise and there was no stopping me.

I took large leaps from the face, descending 20-30 feet at a time. In less than 60 seconds, I was back on terra -firma. It was all over and I would have happily caught the lift back up to do it again.

Indeed I can recommend abseiling to anyone. So, if you are ever asked to take part in something like this, just go for it. You may have reservations at first. But once you take that initial leap, you'll never look back.

Having so many people involved requires a lot of organisation and I must commend the volunteers from the RNIB and those members of the Chudleigh Rock and Caving Club who were on hand to give us the necessary training.

Organisers from the RNIB
Members of the RNIB: (from left) Tim Evans, Judith Powell, Kate Nairn, Chris Tibbets

That weekend was hard work for many of the organisers but they did manage to beat their target of £30,000.

Judith Powell from the RNIB told me the whole team were absolutely overwhelmed by everyone's generosity: "A portion of the £36,000 raised will go to the Transcriptions Centre in Ivybridge and we also donate to the Talking Book service. Devon is one of the largest users of Talking Books in the country with over 1500 members" she said.

Thanks to everyone involved for the experience.


Sadly, Craig died in July 2002.
It is at the request of his family, and as a mark of respect by his friends and colleagues at BBC Devon, that his feature remains on this website.
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