Sunday, 29 November 2015

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Daredevil Helen Skelton's charity abseil from BT Tower

Dangling from a rope 485ft above the streets of London is not everybody’s idea of a good start to the week...

Helen Skelton photo
Helen Skelton sets off

But not everybody has the indomitable spirit of Cumbria’s very own TV adventure queen Helen Skelton-Myler.

The former Blue Peter presenter joined 30 other celebrities yesterday morning to take part in a nerve-jangling abseil from the 29th floor of London’s iconic BT Tower.

They were raising funds for Sport Relief 2014 and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust.

“It’s not until you get up there that you realise how high it is, so going over the edge was a bit nerve-wracking,” said Helen, who added the abseil to a growing list of astonishing feats – including a high-wire walk 66m above Battersea Power Station and a gruelling 500-mile trek across Antarctica.

“You get up there, step to the edge, and then as you step backwards you have only the rope and you put your whole body weight onto it. I laugh when I get nervous, and I was hysterical. Once I was over the edge, I was left hanging there for a bit. It was really windy and I was being blown about all over the place, and for the first few seconds spinning around.

“Then there was a moment when I settled down and I looked out over London in the sunshine and I just thought ‘I’m so lucky’.

“Yes – it was a bit scary but I’m one of those people who thinks that you should push yourself to the limit and see where you get to.”

Helen’s descent lasted around 17 minutes.

As part of a team of celebrity abseilers, supervised and supported by Royal Marines, Helen said she was able to concentrate on enjoying what was always going to be an exhilarating experience.

“This was brilliant because I was able to enjoy it,” said Helen, comparing the stunt to the intense pressure she faced during her high-wire walk, when her training included instructions on what to do if the building began to collapse.

So why does she continue to put herself in such extreme situations?

Apart from wanting to help good causes, Helen, from Kirkby Thore near Penrith, said she wants to use her celebrity to help inspire others to test their own limits.

“I feel really lucky that I can be a part of this kind of stuff. While I’ve got the chance to get involved I want to make the most of it. There are still lots of things I would love to do. Everybody would love to go to space and I’d love to do some kind of sailing trip.”

BT’s chief executive officer Gavin Patterson, who also took part, said he faced a mental and physical challenge since he was not a fan of heights.

The event is raising money for Sport Relief and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund via BT’s MyDonate. To sponsor an abseiler visit


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