25-metre abseil? No problem for great gran, 89

A GREAT grandmother aged 89 was one of four generations in one family to abseil down the tower at Huntingdon Fire Station on Sunday, helping raise more than £1,100 for Marie Curie. Ellie Beaven took the plunge down the 25-metre-high tower and inspired fo

A GREAT grandmother aged 89 was one of four generations in one family to abseil down the tower at Huntingdon Fire Station on Sunday, helping raise more than £1,100 for Marie Curie.

Ellie Beaven took the plunge down the 25-metre-high tower and inspired four generations of her family, her son Andy, 62, grandson, Chris, 39, and great-grandson Ross, 15, to follow suit.

The family have raised the cash (which is still coming in) in memory of Mrs Beaven's daughter-in-law, Julie, wife of her son, Andy, who died of cancer seven years ago, aged 52, leaving three sons.

Ellie said she enjoyed the climb down. Before the ascent she said: "There are still several things I want to do before I fall off my perch. I had my first trip in a hot air balloon this year and, when I am 90, I want to go on a tandem parachute jump."

Afterwards, she said: "I wasn't afraid. The Royal Artillery told me that I was safe and I trusted them."

Mrs Beaven had never been in an aeroplane until, aged 84, her son Andy took her and a friend, also aged 84 to Malta. "He took two 84-year-olds on holiday," she said. "He thought I needed a break."

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Ellie, who lost her husband to Alzheimer's five years ago, also has a daughter and, in total, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Her son Andy said he and his son, Chris, 39, a courier driver, were much more afraid than his mother had been. "Neither of us likes heights - in fact this was supposed to conquer my fear of heights but I'm not sure it has done.

"You have to climb up four different levels in the tower with stairs close to the wall. Then you sit on this ledge and lean back. You are told that even if you let go with your hands and feet you can't fall and you have to believe that.

Ellie, Andy and Chris were joined by Ross, aged 15, a pupil at Longsands College who had abseiled before on outward bound courses.

On Sunday, 39 people abseiled for Marie Curie, raising over £5,700 for the charity between them - beating the charity's target of £5,000 for the day. The abseilers were briefed on the day by the Royal Artillery Display Team.

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