Mel’s on a high after castle drop
Reporter abseils from tower in fundraiser
Perthshire Advertiser reporter Melanie Bonn was checking her life insurance on Sunday before she bravely abseiled off the six-storey tower of Blair Castle.
It was a stunt being offered by Free Spirits’ Steve Thomas to raised funds for Scotland’s Air Ambulance (SCAA), the charity benefiting from the weekend’s Blair Castle International Horse Trials.
Over the weekend, Steve took around 40 people up to climb down off the castle roof in return for a £40 donation.
As well as this, some abseilers were sponsored to do the drop too , netting £9000 for the rescue team.
Grandtully-based Free Spirits boss Steve had a personal reason for offering the adrenalinefuelled experience at the horse trials after suddenly becoming critically ill with bacterial meningitis overnight on January 3.
As he slipped out of consciousness, his wife summoned the SCAA rescuers who got him to medical help in time to stop the potentially deadly brain infection.
He woke up in hospital from a six-day coma to be told by doctors that without the time saved by the helicopter airlift he would likely be dead.
Reporter Melanie was thrilled by the unique experience of climbing a winding staircase to the top of the 80ft castle tower, Blair Castle in Highland Perthshire
catching glimpses of dusty rooms not open to the public and then surveying the view of the crowded showground from the high vantage point.
But then she had to face her fears and take the plunge.
She explained: “I was fine reassuring my two children who went down the rope before me that it would all be OK.
“But then it was my go and my
heart was in my mouth, to put it mildly.”
Steve had calming words and a hand on an extra safety rope, enabling Melanie to successfully and safely make her descent - being careful not to put a boot through the tower windows as she climbed down.
Back on firm ground, after no more than three minutes dangling from the high wire, she waved back to Steve who was happy to see another person experience abseiling.
Despite his head for heights, he hopes never to need again the services of SCAA’s green and yellow helicopter – which is powered entirely by public donations.
• See Friday’s PA for more from Blair Castle Horse Trials.