It was a heart in the mouth moment for more than forty intrepid volunteers when they reached the top of the 160 step spiral staircase of Ripon Cathedral’s South West Tower and stepped onto the roof of the 12th century landmark.
They were taking part in the first ever sponsored abseil from the roof of Ripon Cathedral in support of Christian Aid,on Saturday July 12th.
Among those going over the parapet of the 120 foot South-West tower was the Revd Stephen Burgess (pictured left and below right), the Chair of the York and Hull District of the Methodist Church. An ecumenical canon of the Cathedral, Stephen chose to make the abseil in his red canon’s cassock.
“Once the challenge had been issued,” he said, “I couldn’t think of any reason to say no. I have always had a passion for what Christian Aid stands for.” One of the first to go over the top, Stephen also admitted to having some previous experience. “I used to rock climb as a student” he said, “but then a knee injury put an end to it. But I have never abseiled down the side of a building like this.”
Others taking part included the Cathedral’s Head Verger, Colin Belsey and the Vicar of Catterick and Tunstall, the Revd Lindsay Southern. For Colin, (pictured below preparing for the abseil), a keen mountain walker, it is the first time he has abseiled since he was a teenager. “As a verger, I regularly have to go up the Bell Tower to put the flag up or ring the bells, but I have never thought of jumping off before!” In fact, Saturday July 12th is also be Colin’s 55th birthday. “I thought", said Colin, "what better way to celebrate than by doing something I’ve never done before!’”
The abseil took place down the 12th century South West Tower in front of a crowd of friends and supporters waiting below on the Cathedral west front.
The view from below.
A number of staff from St Aidan's Church of England High School in Harrogate took part including Religious Studies teacher, Maggie Gee (below left) and Physics teacher Matt Park (below right). So far they have raised more than £400 between them but are hoping to more than double that total following the abseil.