It started off as a joke, but not even two arthritic knees could prevent 84-year-old Evelyn Beaver from successfully abseiling at Tallington Lakes last Sunday in memory of her grandson who would have turned 21 this year.
Evelyn, of Blackmead, Orton Malborne, climbed down the 50 foot wall in one minute 25 seconds, even though she could not do it backwards as it is meant to be done.
She said: “I was the first one and I could not get my legs down where they should be so I went down sideways, but I did it.
“The hardest part was going up. There were ladders you have to climb.
“It was a bit nerve-racking - I’ve never done anything like that before.
“It’s quite daunting but I did it and really enjoyed it. I could not have wished for it to be any better. It was absolutely brilliant.”
The whole day was a real family occasion, with Evelyn joined by daughters Sylvia Beaver and Teresa Shaw and grandson Graham Shaw for the abseiling.
Husband Michael was also present - with the couple celebrating their 62nd anniversary - as was daughter Susan Cole, granddaughters Hannah and Jennifer and grandson Jonathon who turned 26 on the day was able to ride in an open top car.
Sylvia is an experienced climber, and Evelyn said: “She did it three times because she was so quick the first two times they could not get her on camera.”
The event was put on more than six years after the death of Evelyn’s 14-year-old grandson Richard Shaw who passed away from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome -a heart condition - after falling ill following a football match.
Money from the abseiling, and two future 5km runs, will go to the charity SADS and the Evelina Hospital in London where Richard died.
Evelyn said: “It’s very traumatic. You do not get over those sorts of things. You have to learn to live with them.”
So far the family has raised £800 this year, she added, with the idea of an abseil coming out of the blue. “It started off as a joke. I said to them ‘I will do an abseil’. They said I was mad,” said Evelyn.
“If there’s another challenge and I think I can do it I will. We need to raise a lot of money.”
Richard’s mother Teresa, of Engaine, Orton Longueville, does not like heights, so abseiling helped her to conquer her fears. “I held on to the bar for dear life,” she said.
“I did not expect mum to do it. She was quite calm about it and I shook like a leaf. I was quite chuffed mum got to do it.”
The family is now planning to hold tombolas to raise more money. Anyone who is willing to help can call 01733 371164 or 07809127677. To donate to the two charities, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/teresa-shaw2.