ELISE BREWERTON: A terrified journalist’s first hand experience of the Spinnaker Tower abseil

Police promoting safety messages at Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth

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I’VE lost count of the amount of stories I’ve covered over the years of fundraisers shimmying down the Spinnaker Tower.

It all looks so easy when you’re reporting from the ground, looking up.

Reporter Elise Brewerton on the glass viewing deck of Spinnaker Tower before the abseil  
Picture: Vernon Nash

Reporter Elise Brewerton on the glass viewing deck of Spinnaker Tower before the abseil Picture: Vernon Nash

So when Brain Tumour Research suggested I took part in their mass abseil on Saturday, I went for it. How hard could it be?

When I told friends and family about it, I was pretty blasé. Even walking up the staircase inside the white and gold landmark, I was cool as a cucumber.

The fear began when I had to have my photo taken on the glass floor of the viewing deck. My tummy started doing flips.

And, believe me, I was anything but blasé as I hoicked myself out onto the tiny platform, 330ft up – I was absolutely terrified.

‘Just pull up on the rope, you’ll be fine’, my instructor said. ‘Now, smile!’ and he flashed a camera in my face and unhooked whatever it was that was keeping me hanging.

My entire body was shaking. At first my brain and my hands weren’t talking to each other. It took a few very deep breaths before I remembered to pull the rope to start my descent.

A fair amount of rum language spurted out before I calmed down and took in the spectacular views of the Historic Dockyard, Gunwharf Quays and Old Portsmouth.

But every time I looked down the ground seemed just as far away as it had at the top!

It wasn’t so much the height that was scary, it was the fear the rope would snap.

I kept telling myself that 14,000 other people had managed it, and so would I. It felt like it was going on forever but it was actually only four minutes.

Making it back on terre firma I gave the instructor a bear hug – happy to be alive.

Well done to all those people who volunteer – you are so brave. I’d never do it again!

To see a video of my abseil, with the rum language edited out, go to portsmouth.co.uk.

To donate go to braintumourresearch.org.