Forth Rail Bridge Abseil – Aoife’s Story

Date: 9th November 2018

In October 10 brave abseilers took on the elements and abseiled from the Forth Rail Bridge in aid of Down’s Syndrome Scotland. One of those abseilers, Aoife McLafferty, tells us what motivated her to take part and how she found the experience.

“I was looking through the Down’s Syndrome Scotland website when I came across the fundraising page. I had originally wanted to do a Kiltwalk or bag pack but couldn’t manage the dates they were on. When I saw the abseil fundraising event I jumped at the opportunity.

I’ve always loved the Forth Road Rail Bridge, for years it signified that I was that closer to being home. While at university I drove past it fortnightly going from Dundee to Edinburgh airport. I could even see it from the plane home! So any chance to add to those memories was welcomed.

I wanted to help raise money for Down’s Syndrome Scotland as they were, and still are, a great help to my family. In January, we found out that our baby would have Down’s syndrome. The support we received from Down’s Syndrome Scotland in person, online and through their New Baby Pack was priceless. The internet had too much information and most of it negative and overwhelming, especially when I was hormonal and pregnant. Our Family Support Service Officer was wonderful, she reminded us that our baby, is a baby first and foremost. That support was invaluable to us and we wanted to help provide that to other families.

I still have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about the abseil. I hate heights, like really hate them. I felt sick throughout the whole experience, as if my heart was trying to break out of my chest!

Standing on that bridge, while getting told how to work the ropes, I was just repeating “No, no, no, no, no”. I was shaking so much that people kept asking was I cold! After being told how to stop and start, using the ropes I was then instructed “duck under, stand on that beam, lean back and go!”. My husband had gone before me and was trying to offer words of encouragement. I was having none of it. Stepping off that bridge was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I just kept thinking of the baby cuddles I was getting once I got down. Eventually, after what felt like a life time, and getting stuck (because I didn’t know how to work the ropes!) I made it to the ground. I have never been so proud of myself. I could have backed out, walked back down off the bridge, but didn’t. Once I was back on the ground, I was able to appreciate the fabulous views!

I conquered a big fear of mine and it was all because of my little boy. If it wasn’t for him and the community that he has opened up for us then I would NEVER have done something like this.

Down’s syndrome Scotland are an amazing organisation. Their Family Support Service, local branches, educational classes, school support, teaching for school staff etc. are priceless. When the world seems a bit overwhelming, with forms and children’s rights and facts/statistics they are there to help break it down for families. Understanding how to decider forms are hard enough without having a child to look out for! So the Family Support Service, for me, is a big help. I wouldn’t pass up on opportunity to help contribute to fundraising for these invaluable resources.”

If you would like to take part in one of the abseils for next year contact Julie on 0131 442 8840 or email