Leap of Faith
FALLING ISN’T DANGEROUS – IT’S LANDING THAT’S THE PROBLEM!
Would you be brave enough to jump off the roof of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral?
Well, that’s exactly what a team of enthusiastic student supporters did to raise funds for the Waterloo Partnership on a sunny Saturday in August 2013.
Members of the Liverpool Budo Kai Ju Jitsu Academy, mainly university students, who train at St Mary’s sports centre in Crosby, bravely took part in the Anglican Cathedral’s fantastic annual Charity Abseil event. The ten ‘daredevils’ faced the unique challenge of a 150 ft free-fall drop from a specially constructed launching platform above the vaulted arch of the vast West windows. This was an event they obviously couldn’t train for, but they had spent weeks looking for sponsorship, aiming to raise £100 each for the charity.
We had been watching the weather forecast anxiously, since high winds would have meant the event being postponed, with the problem of getting the team together again during holiday time. Saturday 10th turned out to be bright and breezy, with scudding cloud and the usual wind whirling round the Cathedral; but in the shelter of the great West porch the abseiling ropes were surprisingly protected. As a compere announced the running order, supporters from other charities milled around in front of the west facade and cheered their teams on, to the obvious bewilderment of the Cathedral’s foreign visitors!
Not surprisingly, there was a certain amount of apprehension as well as banter, as our team of ‘jumpers’ congregated by the Registration tent for a group photograph. Once kitted out with harness and equipment by the organisers, they were lead off to the lift, thus avoiding the extra challenge of a bracing climb up the 224 steps to the tower. There are stunning views from the top of the building, and those abseilers who weren’t too nervous about the immediate prospect of launching themselves into mid-air from the abseil platform could see all the way over the city below, to North Wales in one direction and to the Pennines in the other. Steph generously agreed to have her photo taken as she hung away from the platform with the cityscape below, and her excited face later appeared in the local papers, giving us some welcome publicity.
The BKJJA team had a half-hour ‘slot’ booked from 12 noon, and since two ropes were available they had all decided to abseil down in pairs, to give each other some moral support! Most of them wore their distinctive white Judo kit, as well as the bright orange safety helmets and leather gauntlets provided. Some came down more quickly than others, but all the ‘falls’ were well controlled by the excellent professional staff at the top, with a comfortably ‘soft’ landing – all very reassuring. It was buzzing with excitement afterwards: most described it as ‘awesome’, and hoped to do it again. Jayne was the most nervous ‘jumper’, but was so impressed by the work of the charity that she says she too would give it another go!
A big ‘THANK YOU’ to Peter Smith, the Chief Coach at BKJJA, a loyal supporter of the charity, who organised the team. We are extremely grateful to Peter for mustering the ‘jumpers’ for this innovative event, which was great fun to watch as well as a memorable experience for those taking part.THANKS also to all the abseilers, for their sense of adventure and their willingness to raise funds for the charity’s work in the ‘other Waterloo’. And ‘THANK YOU’ to everyone who sponsored them, raising £1250 for the Waterloo Partnership. It was a great day!
Among the WP supporters cheering the abseiling team on, David Lloyd and Fred Nye (both Trustees) were so impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of the Budo Kai team that they were inspired to have a go themselves. With an assortment of NHS spare parts, they are old enough to know better, but fortunately both had abseiled before.
There were a couple of free slots for the intrepid pair after the lunch break; so they duly registered and were kitted out and escorted into the cathedral, before emerging on the platform above the great west window to start their ‘free-fall descent – apparently the views were truly stunning once the vertigo subsided! Watched by one anxious wife, they came down safely, and there was relief and self-congratulation when they ‘landed’.
Fortunately Fred and David had photos and a certificate to prove that the unplanned abseil had really happened, and they were extremely grateful to all the the friends who so generously donated retrospective sponsorship to the Waterloo Partnership.