Supporters of Wiltshire Air Ambulance experienced the exhilaration of abseiling down Avon Gorge, Bristol, on Sunday.

Thirty people abseiled 200 feet down the gorge in Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s first abseil and their fundraising efforts will enable the charity to continue saving lives.

Among the abseilers were care home workers Xiaoying Xia, William Smith, Clare Nash and Penka Apostolova of Milford House, Salisbury.

William said: “There were no shortage of volunteers at work to take part in the abseil. It was great, we all enjoyed it and Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a brilliant cause.”

Lisa Jenkins, of Melksham and who is the community champion at the Asda store in the town, also completed the abseil and said: “I did an abseil 20 years ago when I was in the Guides. I wanted to do this abseil to challenge myself and do something out of my comfort zone. I’m really glad I did it and I have raised more than £500 for Wiltshire Air Ambulance.”

It was the first time abseiling for James Nation, of Malmesbury, who works as a contracts manager in Royal Wootton Bassett. He said: “It was really exciting and it was a really well organised event.  I was nervous at the top but once I’d gone over the edge and was abseiling down it was exhilarating. Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a great charity, you never know when you might need it.”

Wiltshire Council Chairman councilor Allison Bucknell and her husband, Steve, a town councillor, of Royal Wootton Bassett, also abseiled.

Allison said: “Thanks to Wiltshire Air Ambulance for putting on something a bit different, giving us the opportunity to try something new and raise lots of money for such a great cause. Steve and I were hoping to raise £1,000 between us, but with generous supporters it is nearer £1,000 each!”

Jacki Martin, assistant shop manager of Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s charity shop in Devizes, braved her fears and completed the abseil.

She said: “I was petrified beforehand but I enjoyed it. It was easier than I thought it would be and I’m really proud to have been part of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance team completing the abseil. The shop customers have supported me and wished me luck.”

The youngest participant was Lottie Litherland, 14, of Devizes. She is used to abseiling on an indoor climbing wall at Dauntsey’s School but this was the highest she had abseiled outside.

She said: “The abseil was very good. Wiltshire Air Ambulance has landed on our school field and it was nice to fundraise for them and help them to save more lives.”

The team of abseilers were cheered on by Wiltshire Air Ambulance volunteers and Marsha the mascot.

So far, the amount raised is more than £3,700.

Kenresa Stratford, events co-ordinator at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “We are delighted at the success of our abseil at Avon Gorge. Thank you to Jake and the team at JT Expeditions for guiding our abseilers down safely and making the event memorable.

“It is the first time we have held an abseil and our participants embraced the challenge. Their fantastic efforts will help us to continue saving lives.”


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