Senior optometrist Matt Richardson and wife Sarah abseiled, upside-down, from Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge, in an ‘extreme abseil’ to raise funds for a hospice in their home town of Hexham.

The Transporter Bridge towers 165ft above the River Tees and both Matt and Sarah admitted to feeling a bit ‘queasy’ ahead of their adventurous challenge.

Four years ago Matt and Sarah suffered the stillbirth of their twins who were conjoined and sharing organs. Devastated, the couple turned to Tynedale Hospice at Home to help them come to terms with their tragic loss. They both describe the help received from the team in the Adult Bereavement Service as having been ‘absolutely invaluable’ in helping them to cope, and move forward.

A word from Matt

Matt said: ‘Without exception, this was the most devastating time of our lives and we have endured a long and difficult journey to get to where we are now. We’ve had many, many ups and downs along the way and the support service has been there beside us helping us to deal with our emotions and our attempts to make sense of the tragic loss of our babies.’

More about the couple's charity challenge

Matt and Sarah – who are now parents to a two year old daughter – wanted to show their appreciation by fundraising for the hospice.

Matt said: ‘We both wanted to give something back to Tynedale Hospice at Home and we came up with this fundraising challenge in which we abseiled off the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough – head first. It was very nerve wracking and felt very unnatural leaning forward into a horizontal position with nothing but fresh air below us for the next 165feet - it looks much higher at the top looking down rather than the bottom looking up!

‘This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this - we wanted to do something that really pushed the boundaries of what we felt capable of – and it did just that. It was well worth it – so far we’ve raised over £1,000 and our JustGiving page will stay open until November, and we are really grateful for every donation anyone is willing to give.’

Supporting the initiative

The couple have had lots of encouragement from work colleagues at Specsavers, friends and family.

Matt added: ‘We’re so grateful for all of the support we have had – both in coping with the death of our twins and in sponsoring our extreme abseil. Tynedale Hospice at Home is charity-funded and all the money we raise will go to them to help them continue their excellent work providing compassionate and caring support to those in need.’

Donations can be made in person at Specsavers Hartlepool, online at , or by texting the code FGRX88 followed by the donation amount (maximum of £10) (e.g. FGRX88 £5) to 70070

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