Courageous Katherine Elliott will ‘fly’ at 100 miles an hour when she tackles the longest zip wire in Europe.
But for South Shields mum Katherine, the nerve-tingling experience - on the high-speed Velocity ride in north Wales - will be worthwhile to help raise funds for the MS Society.
She will speed through the air over a former Welsh quarry on an exhilarating ride - but that’s only a part of Katherine’s story.
Day-to-day life has changed dramatically for the former Wearside head teacher who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis herself in 2006. She first had problems with her vision, then found it increasingly difficult to walk, and later developed sensory problems.
“Every time I had a relapse, I didn’t recover as much,” said the former head of the Columbia Grange school who had to retire three years ago when her symptoms worsened.
Now, said Katherine, 57, it’s a challenge just to get up the stairs of her home.
Life has changed considerably for me from being a very active head teacher to not being able to do much without assistance of others. I am looking for things to fill my diary and this seemed like a good ideaKatherine Elliott
“It feels like I have done the Great North Run and I have to sit down for 10 to 15 minutes.
“If I go to the post box, which is 50 metres from my house, it is a real push. The more I walk, I get pain and my legs feel like lead weights.”
But undaunted Katherine, who has the progressive form of MS, is determined to live life the best she can and described the zip wire experience as “a personal challenge.
“I am absolutely determined to do it,” she told the Gazette/Echo. “There is no turning back now. Life has changed considerably for me from being a very active head teacher to not being able to do much without assistance of other people.
“I am looking for things to fill my diary and this seemed like a good idea.”
Sunnirise resident Katherine was given the ‘gift’ of a zip wire experience on her recent 57th birthday by her son Christopher, 28, a civil engineer.
To get her own back, Katherine bought both Christopher and her husband David, 60, a retired civil engineer, a zipwire ride of their own - and now they are all doing it together on September 2!
“I’ve heard you reach speeds of 100 miles an hour and you do it lying down and head first,” said Katherine. “I must be mad.”
“It goes over a quarry and I think I will be doing it with my eyes closed.”
But the actual zip wire ride won’t be the real challenge for Katherine. It will be getting there.
She explained: “Most of the time, I am in a wheelchair. I have to get up to the zip wire and I have to walk the final part of the way and can’t use the wheelchair.”
She plans to walk as far as she can before David and Christopher have to help her the rest of the way.
But Katherine is adamant she’s doing it so that she can raise awareness of MS and help other people with the condition.
“They are the people that we are really trying to contact and to let them know we are here. We want to raise awareness of this.”
Katherine had hoped to raise £500 for charity. She’s already smashed the £600 barrier and there’s still time to support her.
To back Katherine, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/katherine-elliott3.
To find out more about the South Shields branch of the MS Society, visit its Facebook page at MS Society South Tyneside where there are regular updates.