We’d like to congratulate Jacki Meaney and her two children, Lottie and James for their achievement last week. They’ve completed their abseil adventure down the Emirates Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth and raised £1,823.12 for Guide Dogs charity so far. We are proud to be one of their supporters, if you’d like to support this amazing cause their Just Giving page is still open for donations.

Jacki and Lottie took a pre-abseil visit to the Spinnaker Tower a few weeks before the event, Lottie remembers becoming apprehensive for the abseil once she realised how high it would be. “I was fine until mum took me up the top of the Spinnaker Tower. That’s when it hit me how high it actually was, it made it all real.” She wasn’t going to let her nerves get the better of her though.

On the day Jacki, Lottie and James were delayed an hour by strong winds and there was even talk of having to reschedule the event. This would have been terribly disappointing for everyone who travelled to cheer on the Meaney family, including 19-year-old Vicky and her guide dog Courtney (aka Blondie Paws) who travelled by themselves from their village in Devon.

The weather did eventually cooperate and their abseil went forward – or should we say downward? Each family member descended the tower one by one. As Lottie put it, “We were suited and booted and up there ready to come straight back down. It was awesome.”

Buffeted by wind, Jacki recounts her adventure, “It wasn’t until I was about 10 metres down with the wind blowing me off the wall and sideways did it hit me how vulnerable I was to the elements and a bit of rope.

Everyone in the tower and on the route to the jump pad were amazing, all the staff kept it very light hearted. The feeling when I hit ground level was euphoric, the emotion was too much and tears welled in my eyes. Then I heard the cheering from our support group and pups. I ran down the stairs to lots of hugs and well wishes.

Seeing Courtney and Vicky, I have never felt so proud to be a charity fund raiser for Guide Dogs. Just seeing these two together made the whole mad, stressful and exhilarating experience so worthwhile.”

James, however, wasn’t too keen but he conquered his fears and went for it. This ‘horrible experience’, as he explained it, was all worthwhile because, “We did good, a solid family performance for Guide Dogs which is a vital service for visually impaired people. The only reason I pushed myself to outside my comfort zone, of feet firmly on the floor, is because I am so proud of my mum for her part in starting off these little life changes and the roles she has within Guide Dogs and listening to the incredible stories she tells of how sight loss affects so many people and what they achieve once matched with a dog.”

Many people with a visual impairment rely heavily on family and friends to lead a life that has many challenges. Sight loss is not just about the inability to see, there are the feelings of fear, vulnerability, isolation, frustration and even anger. Many experience a loss of independence and when they are matched with a guide dog, the world is opened back up for them.

We have been keen to support the Meaney family through this experience, helping those in our local area and being a part of their fund-raising charity endeavour has been a privilege. This family have gone out of their comfort zones and raised this money to help such a deserving group of people, it really warms our hearts.
Jacki is grateful for all the support she has received from everyone, “Thank you for supporting us, Bargate Homes, it means a lot to be supported by our local community network.”