Daredevils’ charity abseil in memory of Christopher

FOUR local daredevils have raised an impressive £3,500 for FASA by abseiling down Ireland’s tallest building - the Obel Tower.

Bangor woman Karen Malone organised the charity abseil followed by a  fundraising evening at the Bryansburn Inn, in memory of her 27 year old son Christopher who took his own life last year.

Karen was joined by her former husband Steven Malone and her cousins Darren and Ryan Esler when they braved the 289 ft tower in Belfast, earlier in June.

Standing at 88m high with 28 floors the Obel is the tallest building in Ireland, as well as being one of the most impressive landmarks Belfast has ever seen.

FASA, based in Bangor’s Market Street, provide specialised services in relation to substance misue, suicide, self harm and for over the past 16 years have helped improve the lives of individuals, families and communities across Northern Ireland.

Speaking to the Spectator, Karen fondly recalled the inspiration behind their brave charity feat - her ‘gorgeous’ son Christopher.

She said, “Christopher was 27 years old when he died, he took his own life. He was just gorgeous. He was a happy chap but he was obviously going through problems that people aren’t aware of on the outside, and it just got too much for him.”

Karen said, “I just felt I had to do something to honour him. FASA is known for its work with substance abuse but it also offers counselling for family members who have been bereaved by suicide, and they are a local charity.

“I just thought if we could help save one person it is an achievement. We didn’t want his (Christopher’s) life to go unmarked, so if somebody else can benefit, that is what we would like.”

Brave Karen certainly has an adventurous spirit as she has already completed a charity skydive. However, she said the charity abseil proved to be a nerve-wracking experience.

“It was daunting, but I decided because I was the only female I would go first, I wanted to get it over and done with.”

Karen said they had been overwhelmed by the generosity of people who had made donations.

“I work in the The Clandy newsagents in Bangor and the support I got in there was just amazing, people were fantastic. We also held a charity evening at the Bryansburn. Everyone there went out of there way to be so helpful.”

All money raised from the local daredevils’ Obel Tower abseil will go towards FASA’s new project ‘The Nightingale’ a new out of hours Crisis Support Centre in Belfast.

Over the past five years one of the key needs identified by service users, families and other agencies is a ‘place of safety’ for those  who are in crisis through the night and need an out of hours service.

The aim of the Nightingale will be to address the present gap in service provision and will deliver the service 9pm to 9am, with supporting day services at an accessible location initially piloting in Belfast.

The facility will provide a resource for people at risk of suicide and self-harm with a place to go and receive help and support in their crucial hour of need.

The tranquil venue will offer access to a quiet, comfortable space, hosting the person in distress to rest while also accommodating supportive family or friends.

Karen said she was delighted by their fundraising total. “We are just over the moon. The support you get, especially when people know it is for a local cause, makes all the difference. FASA need the support and they are a great bunch of people.”