April 23 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, September 15, 2012
A mixture of gut-wrenching fear and adrenaline-fuelled joy are displayed of the face of fun-loving grandmother Di Graham as she hangs in the air during a 110ft abseil from the roof of St Pancras Station in London yesterday.
The intrepid septuagenarian was taking part in the once-in-a-lifetime challenge to raise money for Royal Marines.
Mrs Graham’s son Adam Seaney, 39, is a marines colour sergeant who has served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq and is due to leave for his third tour of Afghanistan in two weeks.
She was one of 20 people to take on the challenge to raise more than £150,000 for the Commando Spirit Appeal on behalf of The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.
Moments after completing the abseil, Mrs Graham, 71, from Fakenham, said: “It was absolutely amazing. I’m now going to celebrate by kissing some Royal Marines and drinking Champagne.”
In a fitting send off, the world famous Corps of Drums from the Royal Marines Band Service gave a rousing chorus as the participants prepared to leap from the station’s vaulted ceiling.
Royal Marines from RMR London supported the participants by leading the abseil and training.
Mrs Graham, a former actress who has worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company, said: “The jump was absolutely incredible. Getting up there was quite hairy. I was lifted up to the roof on a platform and the scariest moment was standing up there waiting to jump.
“But once I jumped off it was amazing. I think I could easily become addicted to abseiling now.
“The marines did a terrific job of organising everything. I knew I would be in safe hands with them.
“I’m now going to go down to Chichester to spend some time with Adam before he heads off to Afghanistan.”
Mrs Graham works around Norfolk as a Pilates teacher.
She is known for her eccentric routines, which include ‘The Lighting Bolt’ and ‘The Mobot’ based on the famous celebrations of Olympic stars Usain Bolt and Mo Farah.
The St Pancras jump is the second in the Commando Spirit Series of challenges giving participants the opportunity to jump from iconic London landmarks.
Prince Andrew joined Commando Spirit participants in a jump off The Shard in London, Europe’s tallest building, earlier this month. The final abseil will be from Twickenham Stadium.
The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund supports those wounded and injured, as well as those still serving, by funding decompression activities, homecoming events and memorials.
It provides through-life support to those who have left the Corps or dependents who have lost loved ones in service and also provides a grant to the next of kin of those who die in service.
Sally-Anne Hunter, Commando Spirit Appeal founder and director, said: “Take The Leap at St Pancras International has been a fantastic success thanks to the determination and support of our amazing participants and the Royal Marines.
“As our Royal Marines do their duty for Queen and country around the globe, our thoughts are with them all and especially those from 40 Commando who recently deployed in Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 17.
“We hope, through the Commando Spirit Appeal, that we can do them proud and show our support for those who give their all for us.”