Newtongrange man proves he has a head for heights

Newtongrange man James Thomson abseils from the Forth Bridge in aid of Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS).
Newtongrange man James Thomson abseils from the Forth Bridge in aid of Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS).

Newtongrange man James Thomson has raised more than £700 for Scottish health charity Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) by abseiling 165ft down the iconic Forth Rail Bridge.

James (43), who works as a stakeholder relations assistant for gas network company SGN at its Axis House offices in Newbridge, took on the challenge as a way of helping people like his father, Jim (69), who suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and emphysema.

James explained: “My father’s illnesses have left him unable to walk more than a few paces without stopping to regain his breath. It’s distressing to see him – you feel very helpless – so I wanted to do something positive to help him and other people in his position.”

CHSS’s Forth Rail Bridge Abseil is one of many events organised by the Scottish health charity to help raise funds to improve the quality of life for people in Scotland affected by chest, heart and stroke illness.

More than 200 CHSS supporters took part in the Forth Rail Bridge abseil last month, raising more than £99,000 for vital local community services.

According to James, the reality of what he was about to do didn’t hit home until he and the rest of his group were being led up onto the bridge. He said: “That was when I began to wonder what on earth I was doing. The scariest moment was when they tell you to step over the safety fence – I was doing my very best not to look down at this point!

“It was probably only three or four minutes before I landed on the beach below, but it felt like a lifetime. Then I felt a real buzz. I would definitely do it again, but next time I might try a different way of getting my adrenalin fix, such as a sky dive or a bungee jump!”

James raised over £350 in sponsorship from friends, family and colleagues, which has been matched by a donation from SGN’s Into Action fund that supports colleagues who give up their time for charity, giving him a grand total of over £700 to pass on to CHSS.

CHSS Event Manager Rachel Morrison said: “We had a brilliant day. The amount raised is absolutely phenomenal and will help improve the quality of life for people in Scotland after a stroke or a diagnosis of a chest or heart condition ensuring that they get the support and services they badly need.

“We are always overwhelmed at how much people raise for us and the motivation people like James have to support us. I’d like to thank them and our incredible volunteers; we really couldn’t run the event without you.”