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Essex man with cerebral palsy abseils from Forth Bridge for charity

Essex man with cerebral palsy abseils from Forth Bridge for charity

image source, Virginia Anderson

image caption, Josh McDonagh described stepping on the bridge as ‘disturbing’

  • Author, Justin Dealey
  • Role, BBC News, Hertfordshire

A man with cerebral palsy abseiled 50m from the Forth Bridge in Scotland to raise money for the charity that taught him to ski.

Josh McDonagh, 31, from Tiptree, Essex, was born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and discovered skiing eight years ago after taking lessons with Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK), a charity based in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

He said: “It was absolutely amazing, the views from the Forth Rail Bridge and knowing we were raising money for such a good cause.

“It was a bit unnerving, the trains were still going over the top, so the whole bridge shook a bit, but you’re trapped, you can’t go anywhere … so I loved it.”

image source, Cameron Ross Hall/Holmlands

image caption, The Hertfordshire charity teaches snow sports to people with disabilities

He was encouraged during his challenge by Virginia Anderson, chief executive of DSUK.

She said she first got involved with the charity because her mother used a wheelchair and her “access to adaptive exercise changed her life”.

The charity teaches snow sports to people with disabilities, while also providing opportunities for social gatherings.

image source, Photo by Jason Cairns

image caption, The abseiling challenge was in aid of the Hertfordshire charity

Mrs Anderson explained: “For someone like Josh, whose cerebral palsy affects his balance and some of his movements, this is a big challenge.

“What I love about Josh is that he’s about breaking down barriers, he wants to see what’s possible and he’s not really concerned with what’s not possible.

“He wants other people who have all kinds of disabilities to push their limits and have fun, a little bit of freedom, to get out there and meet other people and exceed people’s expectations – I think that’s amazing.”

image source, Cameron Ross Hall/Holmlands

image caption, The charity administrator said he would “find another crazy challenge to do” in the future

Mr McDonagh said: “I never thought I would be able to learn to ski but the team at Hemel Hempstead taught me how to ski… They helped me develop as a skier and I met an amazing group of friends I have I would never have met if it wasn’t for DSUK.

“The charity has given me so much and I’m glad I could give back in such a small way.”

Since learning to ski in Hemel Hempstead, Mr McDonagh has gone on ski trips to the mountains of Norway and Andorra and has also become a trustee of the charity.

The fundraiser for the rappel has already surpassed its target of raising £1,000 and Mr McDonagh hopes to have encouraged others to turn to the charity if they have a disability.

He promised to “find another crazy challenge to do” in the near future.

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