Lawyer aims high for Hampshire cancer charity

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Lawyer Mary Chant conquered her fears and abseiled 100m down the Spinnaker Tower to help cancer patients.

The 54-year-old mum-of-one, who is a partner at Hampshire law firm Blake Morgan, overcame nerves to abseil down the iconic tower in Portsmouth.

As well as a personal challenge, the feat was to raise money for a charity close to Mary’s heart.

After hearing of  the expert cancer treatment given to a family friend at Southampton General Hospital, Mary made it her mission to help PLANETS.

It is a relatively new charity based at the hospital that is dedicated to defeating pancreas, liver and neuroendocrine tumours.

The charity is bidding to raise £1m to help provide world-class treatment for patients in Hampshire.

Not a novice at doing charity events, Mary’s previous money-spinners had been sponsored swims many years ago.

But, after a gap of fundraising, the solicitor decided it was time to take on something much bigger – and scarier.

Mary, who had never done an abseil in her life, described the moment she got to the top of the tower and realised she would not be returning to the ground by the lift.

“The first step over the edge was nerve-wracking because you stand on a very small platform,” said Mary.

“You are hooked on to a safety rope and abseil rope, then you step over the edge and get your feet on the tower and you’re off!

“I didn’t get vertigo.

“I just didn’t think about it – I just concentrated on what I was doing and tried not to look all the way down!”

Mary said her main focus was savouring a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

She said: “I spent a fair amount of time doing the descent because I wanted to take in the experience.

“You get a fantastic view down to the ferries and across to the forts in the Solent.

“It’s just an extraordinary view.

“People are like specks! You can see people playing football on pitches miles away.

“While I was going down a train came into Portsmouth station and it looked like a kids’ toy train track!

“As you get further down, you hear all the sounds of the busy city and it feels like you are returning to planet Earth.”

Her abseil raised more than £1,500 for the charity.

Prior to the abseil, Mary’s daughter had completed a sponsored sleepover in the viewing platforms of the tower and also raised funds for PLANETS.

Mary said she had been overwhelmed by the support from friends and work colleagues.

Mary, who lives in Southampton and has been a commercial solicitor with Blake Morgan for 27 years, added: “I think it’s very easy to take our hospitals for granted.

“This unit provides very specialist treatment at a time when NHS budgets are so strained.

“If you want cures for things like this, you have to help.”

To donate to Mary’s cause, visit https://www.justgiving.com/MaryRitchie3

For more information on the charity and its work, visit http://www.planetscharity.org/