Saturday, 19 October 2013

Up, up and away!

Intrepid Pauline Royle reached the heights of Britain's capital of fun, when walked to the 235ft summit of Blackpool Pleasure Beach's Big One - the nation's tallest rollercoaster.
And it was our Happy House kids who gave her the courage to do it.
Pauline, who is in Jane's sponsor family, says:
I saw "Walking the Big One,at Blackpool Pleasure Beach" in the paper sometime ago and decided to have a go and at the same time try to raise some funds for the Happy House Room for Another project.
I set up my JustGiving page, emailed all my friends and relations and told anyone who would listen about what I was doing and why.
I am quite a reticent person really, but knowing it wasn’t about me but about the Happy House kids made it easier.
Someone said I was an inspiration, but I knew it wasn’t me; it was people reading about what Sue Hayward had achieved that made them want to sponsor me.
And sponsor me they have, people’s generosity has been amazing. I had hoped to collect £500 but have a final total of £800 plus some gift aid. 
Prior to the event I had been glued to the weather app on my phone, which eventually settled,  for that evening,  on ‘It will be colder than you’d like’ and ‘You’ll prefer it to be less windy’
It wasn’t wrong, but at least it wasn’t raining!
Driving down the prom, planes were coming in to land at the airport, dropping below the top of the Big One and they still looked very high up.
Eventually six of us  congregated for the safety briefing. I was pleased to see that we were half and half (I had thought it may be a male thing), ages ranged from 15 to mine – I could certainly give them all a run for their money, age wise.
 The safety briefing included what would happen if someone wanted to abort the climb – as it would necessitate being unclipped and manoeuvred passed everyone, I decided that I would get up there no matter what.
After that it was into boiler suit, hardhat and harness – at which point I knew exactly how the Christmas turkey must feel before it is shoved in the oven. 
Then the walk through a deserted Pleasure Beach, strangely quiet and eerie with deep shadows cast by the floodlighting – it would make a brilliant setting for a who-done-it. 
At the bottom of what is technically referred to as the lift pull (I think it’s the bit that enables the cars to get round the rest of the ride) our lanyards were clipped on to the steel cable running up the ride. 
‘Think of it as taking a dog for a walk and just pull it behind you’, said our leader. Easier said than done, mine was one that wanted to stop at every lamppost and was reluctant to move on, that was the bit needed to pull it over the brackets. Then up we went, stopping at 150ft, for ‘the view’, an excuse I think to allow us, well me, to get my breath back.
So far so good, then up to the summit at 235 feet. 
Gosh it was windy, cameras out and the photographing of the view began, it was brilliant, a lovely clear sky and good views of the illuminations and Blackpool Tower changing colour.
It did sway slightly, but at the briefing we had been told a necessity as, if it was rigid it would snap. At that point I wasn’t scared, but did turn and move around a bit gingerly, holding on to the handrail as well; though there was absolutely no way I could have fallen off.
 I did manage a wave to Mike who was waiting on terra firma, he waved back, but he said later that he had no idea who was waving as we all looked like red blobs, the reflection from the aircraft warning light.
 An official photographer went up with us so we all had to pose for our photograph before making our way down. 
That was quite hard as the floodlights shining up made the steps difficult to see, but soon we were back down and my adventure was over. We were presented with our certificates, relinquished our harnesses and sent on our way.
I felt so chuffed, inordinately pleased with myself and couldn’t stop grinning all weekend. My calves were stiff the next day, even though I had tried to do plenty of walking and swimming prior to the event. "
* A big thank you to Pauline for this tremendous effort and to all her family and friends who sponsored her.