Daring fundraisers ready for Stadium of Light zipwire challenge over the Wear

Sylvia and Michael Peel will be celebrating their silver anniversary by taking part in a zip wire challenge over the river Wear from the Stadium of Light to help raise money for SAFC Foundation and St Benedict's.
Sylvia and Michael Peel will be celebrating their silver anniversary by taking part in a zip wire challenge over the river Wear from the Stadium of Light to help raise money for SAFC Foundation and St Benedict's.
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HUNDREDS of people will be throwing themselves off the Stadium of Light roof this weekend.

But fear not, the big plunge will not depend on the Black Cats’ result against Aston Villa tomorrow.

Instead, hundreds of brave souls are aiming to raise thousands for charity by taking part in a zip-wire challenge.

The event will see fund-raisers fly 250 metres across the river on a wire, dropping 45 metres from the top of the Stadium to the Liebherr crane works on the opposite bank.

Places were originally limited to 360, but organisers managed to slot in extra places on both days after being overwhelmed by the reaction.

“The response to this event has been fantastic,” said SAFC Foundation community events co-ordinator Katrina Quinn – the two-day event will raise funds for the Foundation and for St Benedict’s Hospice.

“We extended the event by three hours over the two days to cope with the demand and we are still sold out. There will be more then 400 people zipping across the Wear over the course of the two days.

“People have really got behind it, partly because it is raising money for two very worthy local charities but also because it is going to be quite a unique experience,” said Katrina.

“It will be brilliant for the people taking part.”

Registration to take part in the event is £20, with participants required to pledge to raise at least £100 in sponsorship, but organisers expect many of those taking part will have far exceeded the minimum target.

Among those taking part are Sylvia and Michael Peel, who will be marking their silver wedding in unusual style.

The couple, from Washington, have a very personal reason for taking part. Sylvia’s brother Brian Jenkins was looked after in St Bendict’s shortly before his death at just 51.

“The care he and the whole family received was exceptional,” said Sylvia.

Also taking the plunge is Echo business writer Kevin Clark, who is raising funds in memory of two much-missed colleagues.

“We had a few bad weeks at the start of the year,” said Kevin.

“Our former Washington reporter Trevor Hoyland died just after Christmas after battling lung cancer and then our digital editor and former SAFC reporter Ian Laws collapsed at home.

“The SAFC Foundation was the charity Ian’s family chose for donations after his death, while Trevor spent some time in St Benedict’s during his illness, so I can think of no more fitting tribute to them both.

“ I hope everyone who knew Trev or Ian will find it in their hearts to donate whatever they can spare.”

Kevin was at the stadium this week and admits to having second thoughts.

“I was at a meeting in the Durham Suite, which is only on the first floor of the stadium, and as I looked down at Liebherr, I realised just how far way it was,” he said.

“I’m sure I’ll be nervous on Saturday – especially as I’m one of the first to go – but I’m determined to raise as much as I can in memory of Ian and Trevor. I initially set myself a £500 target but I’m on course to double that, which is absolutely brilliant.”

Anyone wishing to sponsor Kevin can do so online by visiting www.justgiving.com/Kevin-Clark3.