Abseiling down Arundel Castle for Chestnut Tree House was an incredible experience
There was never any doubt that I would do the abseil.
For one, I have never been afraid of heights or trying something new. But more importantly this was for an incredible charity and there was no way I could let Chestnut Tree House down.
But for one tiny moment - when I was told ‘to turn round and lean back’ off the side of the iconic Bake House Tower at Arundel Castle - I thought ‘maybe I can’t do this’!
However, it was just one tiny moment and like all good things, it was over too quickly.
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It was an early start to the day. I had to be at Arundel Castle for 7.15am ready for the 8am slot for abseiling down the tower.
It was great to see how many people were there supporting the abseilers.
After filling in the medical form, I got strapped into the harness. Myself and another abseiler had to get a different harness because of our height (but in my case I am pretty sure it was my weight!).
Then after a bit of waiting around we were taken to the bottom of the stone steps of the tower. And this was the worse part.
We were there for probably 15 minutes but it felt like an hour may have passed. Then we started the ascent up and the higher you got, the narrower the steps were so by the time we got to the top, not only was I tired out, I was dizzy too.
But a few minutes to compose myself and take in some water, I was ready to go. Then came that moment.
You literally walk the plank to get to the edge of the tower. Once I was connected to the rope, that's when I was told to turn around and lean back. Al morning people were telling me not to look down. But I did, and I enjoyed the view and it was comforting to know so many people were there to cheer me on (I was in the first batch of three to do it).
And when I made that initial push off the edge, I heard a collective cheer that really spurred me on. On the way down I was in charge of the speed with my grip. I wanted to savour it so I didn't fly down - it was a steady descent. That was a difficult thing to control and my hand never relaxed at all and by the time I reached the bottom with all the grace of Bridget Jones coming down a fireman's pole, my hand hurting.
In fact when I let go of the rope it was like that episode of Friends when Chandler plays the video game too long and his hand had become disfigured. It took a while to be able to straighten my fingers without them hurting.
But it was an incredible experience and to see so many people doing this for Chestnut Tree House was inspiring and humbling. There are due to be nearly 400 people doing it over the weekend. Good luck to everyone taking part.
You can still donate by visiting my justgiving page - www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Mark-Dunford4
- Chestnut Tree House is a children’s charity providing hospice care services and community support for children and young people with progressive life-shortening conditions throughout East and West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and South East Hampshire. For more information visit their website at www.chestnut-tree-house.org.uk/