Abseil of cathedral tower for charity

Rev Stephen Burgess taking part in the abseil of Ripon Cathedral
Rev Stephen Burgess taking part in the abseil of Ripon Cathedral

It was a heart in the mouth moment for more than 40 volunteers who took part in a sponsored abseil of Ripon Cathedral’s south-west tower.

The group climbed 120ft up using the tower’s 160-step spiral staircase before descending the outside by rope to raise money for Christian Aid on Saturday, July 12.

Among those going over the parapet was the Rev Stephen Burgess, the chairman of the York and Hull District of the Methodist Church. An ecumenical canon of Ripon Cathedral, Stephen chose to make the abseil in his red canon’s cassock.

“Once the challenge had been issued I couldn’t think of any reason to say no,” he said.

“I have always had a passion for what Christian Aid stands for.”

One of the first to go over the top, Stephen also admitted to having some previous experience.

“I used to rock climb as a student” he said.

“But then a knee injury put an end to it. But I have never abseiled down the side of a building like this.”

Others taking part included the cathedral’s head verger, Colin Belsey, and the Vicar of Catterick and Tunstall, the Rev Lindsay Southern.

For Colin, a keen mountain walker, it is the first time he has abseiled since he was a teenager.

“As a verger, I regularly have to go up the bell tower to put the flag up or ring the bells, but I have never thought of jumping off before,” he said.

The abseil took place down the 12th century tower in front of a crowd of friends and supporters waiting below on the cathedral west front.

Between them, the abseilers have pledges worth £10,000.