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Sunderland zipwire daredevils raise £17,000 for charity

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THRILLSEEKERS took on a flying feat to raise thousands of pounds for charity.

About 160 people climbed up to the roof of the Stadium of Light to zipwire across the River Wear on Saturday.

The challenge, set up by Sunderland AFC’s official charity the Foundation of Light, helped to raise more than £17,000 which was split with the North East Autism Society.

Now in its sixth year, the zipwire attracted people from across the region to fly 250 metres across the river, at up to 25 miles per hour, and land on the opposite bank at Liebherr 
Cranes.

Speaking seconds before launching from the roof of the stadium Clare Smith, 38, of Chester-le-Street, said she decided to brave the challenge in aid of her son Corey Smith, four, who is autistic.

“I’m very nervous,” she said. “I feel a bit sick, but it’s all for a good cause.

“It’s a great charity and that’s what I’m doing it for.”

Clare, along with dad Gordon Cattrell, 59, and friend Sarah Mills, 24, helped to raise about £600 for the charities. The all-day challenge saw people, including North East Autism Society ambassadors and Durham cricketers Gordon Muchall and Gareth Breese, taking to the wire every two minutes.

Head of commercial at the Foundation of Light, Phil King, said the white-knuckle event was a success.

He said: “Events like this are great for us because it gets people who just want to do the zipwire get involved in the charity.

“We have to raise about £3 million a year, so doing events like this really helps with fund-raising which we need, and the feedback has been great.”

Fundraiser for the North East Autism Society, Susan Tron, said the joint event between the two charities was a good opportunity to raise awareness of autism.

She said: “We are very grateful to be involved with this event with the Foundation of Light.

“We wouldn’t be able to fund something like ourselves, or attract such a number of people, and it is a great way to get our name out there.”

Friends Kathryn Graham, 41, of Roker, Ashlea Corker, 34, of Seaburn, and Kelly Whelam, 37, of Fulwell, helped to raise more than £300 from their zipwire challenge.

Kelly said: “My friend did it last year but I panicked and didn’t go through with it.

“This year I was determined, though.

“Our children do things with the Foundation as well, so it was a case of doing something for the Autism Society, and giving something back for what our kids get.”

Ashlea added: “It’s an exciting way to raise money for charity.”

 

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