Just over three weeks after abseiling the Shard and the high that I am still on probably isn’t too far of the height I abseiled off! Firstly I couldn’t have wished for a better day weather-wise. I traveled down from Liverpool and parked my car not too far from the Shard. I looked and saw the mighty building that is The Shard, towering above the skyline! Once I arrived at the Shard, I was greeted by the Commando Spirit team and got to meet some of the other participants who were taking part in the abseil. The day had a great atmosphere about it with people both excited and nervous!
As I was directed towards the Shard, I couldn’t help looking up and thinking, “I am about to abseil down the side of that! Once I had got into the building, I was led into the fitting area was some serving Marines who were running the abseil got me into all my kit! As fate would have it, my old boss, when I was in Afghanistan was there, and it was his job to get me kitted up. We got to have a good chat about the days in Afghan and chatted about what we had both been up to since.
For safety reasons, I had to wear a PRR, which is a type of radio the military uses. I joked and said the last time I had worn one of them I had been blown up! Thankfully there wasn’t any chance of any improvised explosive devices going off that day…. Just the matter of a 250-meter abseil… Once at the top and good to go, I made my way to the roof. The View from there was unbelievable, and the guys reckoned you could see for about 50 miles. Incredible. Even more perfect because of the weather. As it was my time for the abseil, I got myself ready and can honestly say I was buzzing with excitement.
I guess with my time with the Marines I had always gone on the theory that as long as you trust the equipment and the guys your working with them, there is no need to worry. I was still using this way of thinking, which I was glad about as it gave me the chance to enjoy the experience and make the most of it. Someone who had done the abseil before I had done it in a bit of a race and got down in 8 minutes, not me! I wanted to enjoy every second of it. The abseil would never be done again, and I would be the only amputee to abseil the full length.
I wanted to make the most of it! The actual abseil itself was incredible. For me, the fact that it would never be done ever again, and I was the only amputee who would do the full length made me relish the occasion. I kept stopping every few steps, just taking a look around. The view was amazing. It left me speechless. Every step, an incredible experience. When I finally got down to the bottom about 20 minutes later, I was greeted by the Race2Recovery team. It was them who had got me a place on the abseil, so it was great for them to be a part of this experience too. We went back inside to a champagne reception.
A good friend of mine, another Royal Marine was working down at the Olympics, so he came and joined in all the fun!. Like they say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. The night turned out to be nearly as good as the day. I got to meet some fantastic people and meet some new friends. Prince Andrew came and had a drink. He gave a speech about what it meant for him to be apart of the abseil. The night turned out to be a late one but who I was to turn to the party after abseiling the tallest building in Western Europe! The whole day was fantastic and an experience I will never forget.
The support from Twitter and Facebook was phenomenal, and it was so humbling reading everyone’s messages of support. Seeing everyone’s messages just added to the fact the journey I have been on. I had a moment when I was driving home the next day and thought a little about the days I had spent in an isolated hospital bed in Birmingham, feeling so down and depressed and compared it to the feeling I had driving home knowing I had everyone’s support and had just abseiled the Shard. In my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined doing any of it.
2.5 million has been raised to date. That speaks for itself. To be able to raise 2.5 million for any charity is fantastic, and I was so proud to be a part of this event. I had a fantastic day, and thanks again for everyone’s tweets, messages, texts, and phone calls of support. The fact a one-legged Scouser spent 20 minutes on a Monday afternoon hanging from the tallest building in Europe will hopefully send the message home that in life,