MP's high wire act helps to save lives
May 8 2007 By Daniel Thomson, The Journal
The Tyne Bridge's own MP zipped off it yesterday - for a very good cause. David Clelland, whose constituency is called Tyne Bridge, zipped off it to help to raise money and awareness for the Anthony Nolan Trust by leaping from his constituency's most famous bridge on a 400ft zip slide.
The daredevil stunt saw him reach speeds of 30mph as he crossed the river, but he said it was more than worth it to encourage people to save lives by signing up for the bone marrow donor register.
It costs the Anthony Nolan Trust £70 every time it adds someone to the register, which makes fund-raising events such as the zip slide absolutely essential.
The three-days of sliding finished yesterday, but not before hundreds of people had taken part to raise an estimated £45,000 for the charity by making the exhilarating trip.
Seconds after he landed at HMS Calliope on Gateshead Quays, Mr Clelland said: "It was absolutely fantastic.
"You're full of trepidation as you climb over the edge of the Tyne Bridge, but once you jump off it's breathtaking.
"Not only was it for an excellent cause, but it was a privilege to see the river from such a unique perspective and I felt completely in safe hands. Everyone was great.
"I think the Anthony Nolan Trust asked me because I'm the MP for Tyne Bridge, so there was an obvious link and I was more than happy to help out. It's incredibly important to get people signed up to the register as donors and fun events like this are a great way of raising awareness."
Peter Finnigan, of the Anthony Nolan Trust, said: "It's been a great three days. This money will go towards the cost of adding people to the bone marrow register and more donors means more lives being saved.
"That's why raising money and awareness through events like this is so important."
The Tyne Bridge zip slide began on Saturday with Cliff Grove, the father of 16-year-old cancer campaigner Josie Grove who died in February, one of the first to jump.
Cliff, 46, of Princes Street, Corbridge, said: "I cannot stress how important it is to raise money and awareness for the Anthony Nolan Trust.
"There are about 60 million people living in the UK, but only 380,000 on the bone marrow register, so it is extremely important to recruit more donors." Josie touched the hearts of the nation after she decided to forgo further cancer treatment in order to spend time with her family and help others suffering from the disease.
She died in February after a two-year battle with leukaemia, but not before she had inspired thousands of people across the country to raise money for charity.
College student Lucy Clasper, 18, who owes her life to two bone marrow transplants, also took a ride on the zip slide on Sunday - as did her father Brian, brother David and sister Amy.
You too can be a lifesaver
A life-saving clinic to sign up bone marrow donors will take place at Newcastle's Theatre Royal - thanks to a £10,000 donation by Josie Grove's family.
Cliff and Jacqui Grove, of Princes Street, Corbridge, Northumberland, want to double the number of donors in the UK in memory of their daughter - but they need your help.
Their donation to the Anthony Nolan Trust will cover the cost of adding more than 140 people to the bone marrow register at clinics in Newcastle, Corbridge and Hexham.
The first is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal on May 19 and is supported by The Journal's Join Up for Josie campaign, which has seen more than 70 people sign up since it launched following Josie's death in February.
Turn up at Newcastle's Theatre Royal, on Grey Street, between 10am and noon on May 19. Only people aged between 18 and 40 can join the register, but people of all ages can help out in other ways.