Fundraiser Lilly abseils down the Spinnaker Tower

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ABSEILING 350ft down the Spinnaker Tower would be a tall order for anyone.

But the challenge was even greater for 23-year-old Lilly Da Gama, who had to do it without the use of her legs.

LONG WAY DOWN Lilly Da Gama abseiling down the Spinnaker Tower for charity. Picture: Paul Jacobs (13840-3)

LONG WAY DOWN Lilly Da Gama abseiling down the Spinnaker Tower for charity. Picture: Paul Jacobs (13840-3)

Lilly, from Fratton, is paralysed from the waist down but wanted to take part in the challenge to raise money for a stroke charity.

So egged on by her cheering friends and family, she climbed down the outside of the tower on Saturday.

Lilly said: ‘It was fantastic but a little bit terrifying.

‘I refused to look down.

‘When I was in hospital I was in there with some people who had strokes and there was one guy in particular who was around the same age as me who had been affected by it.

‘It makes you realise that it can happen to anyone, at any age.

‘So I wanted to do something for a stroke charity to help.’

Lilly was working as an assistant manager in a restaurant at Gunwharf Quays when she fell ill in March 2009.

Doctors diagnosed her with neuromyelitis optica, also known as Devic’s disease, where the immune system attacks the optic nerves and spinal cord.

Lilly’s eyes escaped damage but she lost the use of her legs.

It is an extremely rare condition, and in Europe it is estimated there are fewer than two cases of it for ever 100,000 people.

Lilly was raising money on Saturday for the Stroke Association.

She beat her target of £400 to raise £465 through sponsorship.

Jenny Bacon, 24, of Lawrence Road in Southsea, is one of Lilly’s friends who braved the cold to stand at the base of the tower to cheer her on.

She said: ‘I think she’s really brave.

‘It’s not something I could see myself doing. She’s really inspirational and it’s for a very good cause.’

Lilly was one of several people to abseil down the tower on Saturday for the Stroke Association.

The charity supports stroke survivors and their families, as well as funding research into stroke prevention and treatment.

To donate towards Lilly’s abseil sponsorship fund, visit 
justgiving.com/Lilly-Da-Gama.