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Abseiling fundraisers brave new heights for the needy in India

Students and staff proved they had a head for heights when they tackled a 100ft descent down a landmark building at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

More than 40 thrill-seeking fundraisers abseiled the height of Gateway House to raise thousands of pounds for DMU Square Mile India, a university fund which helps improve the lives of some of India’s poorest people.

DMU Square Mile India abseil 2.WEB

Don't look down: Student Joanna Dine-Hart, 19, prepares to go over the edge

The challengers could be seen overcoming their nerves as they prepared to step backwards over the edge of the seven-storey building.

They all agreed that the most nerve-racking part of the vertigo-defying challenge was stepping off the roof with only a rope and harness for safety.

Up on the roof, they had a safety lesson from the team at Vertical Events ‘to go at their own speed’ and ‘don’t look down.’ They also got a rare glimpse of the long-range views in every direction, showing the full extent of DMU’s campus.

There were shouts of ‘see you on the other side’ from those at the top as they one-by-one made their way down.  Then they were greeted at the bottom of the sheer drop by lots of cheering and clapping from the supportive crowd.

DMU Square Mile India abseil.WEB

It's a long way down: Fundraisers abseil down the side of Gateway House

Grace Patchett, 21, a Mental Health Nursing student, said she had been busy collecting sponsors as she had recently been to India on a #DMUGlobal trip and saw for herself how much money was needed.

She said: “I’d done a bit of abseiling before but nothing like this. Just seeing how high the building is made me feel nervous. It is taller than I remember!

“The worst bit was leaning back and stepping off, that wasn’t easy to do.”

DMU Square Mile India abseil 1.WEB

Students go through a quick safety briefing before going up to the roof at Gateway House

Amy Horner, 19, who is studying Adult Nursing, said she was “so nervous about the whole thing” before she went over the edge.

She said: “All my friends were really excited about me taking part, but they aren’t the ones who had to step off a building!

“But it was worth the nerves as it’s for such a good cause. It’s great that I can do my bit to help.”

Joanna Dine-Hart, 19, a Business Entrepreneurship and Innovation student, said: “It was really, really good. The bit at the top when your heels went over the edge was definitely the worst, but I did it.

“I’ve always wanted to abseil and this was my chance.”

DMU Square Mile India abseil 3.WEB

Student abseilers line up to step over the edge at Gateway House

Ashton Matthews, 19, a Drama Studies student, called herself a ‘sacrificial lamb’ as she had taken part while allowing colleagues at student-run Demon Media to film her.

The Entertainment Producer for DemonTV said: “It was really good fun and anything that raises money for charity is a good thing.

“But it was higher than I thought it was. And walking off a roof backwards was scary.”

Staff and students took part in the charity abseil throughout the day on Friday (February 16). This included people who had signed up in advance, as well as those who paid a set-fee to take part on the day.

The money raised will be used to rebuild houses which risk being flooded by contaminated water during monsoon season, as well as to provide essentials such as school equipment and access to medicine.

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Sam Wright, DMU Square Mile India Public Engagement Officer, said: “It’s the second year we have organised this event to raise money. Last year was so popular; we were overwhelmed with people wanting to take part so we decided to do it all over again.

“Staff and students have done so well with raising money around campus before facing their fears. There has been a conveyer belt of people going down the side of the building all day!

“Most of them were so nervous before abseiling, and then as soon as they got to the bottom, they wanted to do it all over again.”

Posted on Monday 19th February 2018

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