Mel’s on a high af­ter cas­tle drop

Re­porter ab­seils from tower in fundraiser

Perthshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Staff Re­porter

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.


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