Over 600 Daredevils Take the Plunge at Scotland’s Biggest Charity Abseil 09 October 2023 71 year old former RAF reservist, Steve Winstanly, last abseiled in Basra, Iraq in 2003. Now he has abseiled to fundraise for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland in memory of his mum Yesterday (Sunday 8th October) hundreds of people from across the country took part in on of Scotland’s most iconic fundraising events – the Forth Bridge Abseil. The fundraising daredevils took part in the ultimate abseiling experience from the Forth Bridge – Scotland’s Best Loved Landmark, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, whilst raising much needed funds for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and other partner charities. Participants took part in groups throughout the day, abseiling 165 feet from the bridge onto the sandy beach below, on what was the 20th anniversary of the iconic event. The event is run by Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, in partnership with Network Rail and Balfour Beatty. This event was the first time since 2019 that the fundraising event had been open to the public due to pandemic restrictions. This year, the event raised over £100k for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, a fantastic amount that further enables the charity to support the 1 in 5 people across Scotland living with chest, heart and stroke conditions. Steve Winstanley, 71, is a retired meteorologist and former RAF reservist, who lives in Crossgates, Fife. On October 8, Steve took part in the Forth Bridge Abseil to raise vital funds for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland in memory of his mum, Gladys, who suffered a stroke in her 90s. Abseiling off the iconic Forth Bridge might seem a daunting task to most people. But not to Steve. When you’ve abseiled off an air traffic control tower in Basra in the middle of the Iraq War, anything else is eminently do-able! So Steve had no fears about dropping 165ft off Scotland’s most dynamic landmark to raise vital funds for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. 71 year old former RAF reservist, Steve Winstanly, last abseiled in Basra, Iraq in 2003 The 71-year-old retired meteorologist signed up to take part in the popular fundraising event – the first time it has taken place since before the pandemic – in memory of his late mum Gladys, who had a stroke when she was 90 that left her with communication difficulties. Steve, who lives in Crossgates, Fife, said: “My wife saw the advert for the abseil, and it made perfect sense to take part. Not only have I seen first hand the effects of stroke on someone close to me, I also play walking football, and Walking Football Scotland is now affiliated with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. It all just chimed with me.” You only have to speak to one person to realise how many people are affected by conditions like chest, heart and stroke, and I emphasised that to people when I've been collecting for the abseil – we all know someone. Steve was an RAF reservist who spent time in Iraq in 2003 as part of several tours of duty. On one tour, he and his RAF mates decided to abseil off the top off a military air traffic control tour in Basra where British forces were based. Having done his time in that turbulent war zone and in Afghanistan over a series of tours with the reserve forces from 2003-08, an abseil off the Forth Bridge on to the beach at South Queensferry will be a breeze, he says. There is, of course, a serious side to his fundraising. He was living in Aberdeen when mum Gladys had a stroke, which actually occurred while she was on the phone to Steve. After dialling 999, he realised emergency services couldn’t respond to a call from Scotland for a health crisis in England, and it was only after he managed to call Gladys’ neighbour that an ambulance crew arrived. Steve recalled: “Mum recovered, but she lost her speech and had real trouble communicating. What happened to her is a big motivation, but I also play golf with several people who have also had strokes. You only have to speak to one person to realise how many people are affected by conditions like chest, heart and stroke, and I emphasised that to people when I've been collecting for the abseil – we all know someone. “I initially set a target of £500, but I'm now past the £1,000 mark. Like everyone in Fife, I’ve crossed the bridge many times, but dropping off it is a totally new experience.” You can boost Steve’s total at his Justgiving page and help Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland ensure no life is half lived in Scotland. Jayne Forbes, Assistant Director of Fundraising at Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to welcome people back to the iconic Forth Bridge Abseil to raise money for so many charities. “We’ve seen people of all ages, groups of friends, families, and colleagues get together to do something amazing today. We’re so grateful to all those fundraising for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland who are supporting us to ensure there is no life half lived in Scotland. They are true fundraising heroes.” Over 600 daredevils braved the Bridge! Alan Ross, Director of Engineering and Asset Management, Network Rail said: “We are delighted to welcome back Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland and all of the other charity partners taking part in this exciting fundraising event. “It’s fantastic to be able to support essential fundraising efforts by opening up this iconic bridge to those participants wanting a thrilling experience.” Colin Hardie, Construction Superintendent at Balfour Beatty, said: "We were delighted to join with Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland and Network Rail yesterday, to open the doors once again to the iconic Forth Bridge. “Since its inception in 2003, the Forth Bridge Abseil event has raised vital funds to support those living with chest, heart and stroke conditions and this year saw over 600 people daring to take the leap - making this one of the biggest and most successful events yet.” Take a look at the photos from the day on our Flickr. Inspired? Check out our events calendar and set yourself a challenge!