Monday, 14 October 2019

The abseiling 72-year-old

The abseiling 72-year-old

A 72-YEAR-OLD man with a fear of heights abseiled 200ft down a building for charity.

Roger Beattie, 72, who is a Watlington parish councillor, took about 10 minutes to descend Buckinghamshire County Council’s offices in Aylesbury.

He raised more than £300 for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance for which he has been a volunteer for eight years, promoting its work and collecting money.

Mr Beattie, of Blenheim Road, Shirburn, was one of 80 people who took on the challenge.

He said: “I’m not a sporty person and had never done any abseiling before.

“I don’t like heights — if I was by a cliff edge I wouldn’t go too close to it and if I have to go up a ladder to so something I get nervous.”

He was supported on the day by his daughter Joanna Malin, her partner and his granddaughter Skye Malin, 17. Mr Beattie said: “I thought I needed to do something a bit dangerous and just decided to go for it.

“My daughter went berserk when I told her and a lot of people thought I was bonkers.

“But lots of the people in the charity’s office are much younger than I am and I thought, ‘why can’t I do it as well?’”

Mr Beattie, who became a paarish councillor in 2015, had to put on a safety harness before his descent and was given a briefing.

“From the top of the offices there’s a beautiful view,” he said. “It wasn’t until I had to let go that I felt a bit anxious.

“Coming down, I must admit, I thought at one point ‘I don’t want to do this anymore, I want to get off’ but you can’t do that. You have just got to keep going.

“The one point I did take notice of was not to look down at any time.

“Once I got used to feeding the rope through to gradually let myself down it was all right.

“I was worried about twisting in the wind and bumping against the wall but that didn’t happen.

“People started clapping and I could hear the cheers of ‘you’re nearly there’ and then you’re down but it seemed like ages.

“My daughter gave me a big hug when I went up and one when I came down. I knew she was very nervous about it.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to bits and chuffed with myself. It was the perfect day.”

The charity, whose helicopter flies out of RAF Benson, is based at Stokenchurch and Mr Beattie volunteers there for a couple of hours every week. He said: “It’s a charity and we normally say to people ‘we hope you don’t need us, but we’re here if you do’.

“The aircraft has paramedics and doctors on board so they can do quite a few things before a patient gets to hospital.

“Every single time it goes up it costs about £2,500.”

He said the money he had raised would go towards specialist pieces of equipment the charity needs.

Mr Beattie, who worked in sales in printing and bookbinding before retiring, said he might consider doing another abseil.

“I spoke to one of the organisers and asked him the highest abseil he’d done and he said ‘600ft’ and I said, ‘no thank you’.

“I was actually shaking when I looked at the photographs my granddaughter had taken and the height that I’d done.”

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