A WOMAN from Abergele who turns 60 this week marked the occasion by abseiling down a church in Bodelwyddan in aid of the hospice which cared for her late father.

Rhian Clarke, who celebrates her birthday on May 15, completed the challenge, organised by St Kentigern Hospice and held at St Margaret’s Church, on Saturday (May 11).

Joined by three friends; Melanie, Andrea and Sharon; Rhian has potentially raised more than £1,000 for the St Asaph-based hospice, while the four of them have gathered a combined total of roughly £3,000 in donations.

St Kentigern is a charity close to Rhian’s heart, as the hospice looked after her father before he died a few years ago. 


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Nicknamed “The Marble Church”, the building is known for its panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Rhian said: “It was a bit scary going over the top wall, but I just thought I had to do it because of the money people had pledged.

“It was at that point that I realised how important those pledges have been; these people trusted me to do this.

“Abseiling down took probably about two minutes, after first climbing a very steep, narrow concrete staircase. Once I got to the top of that staircase, I thought: ‘I’m not going back down that again!’

“The views were stunning; it was a bright, clear day, and it was surprisingly quiet. It was very peaceful and absolutely beautiful.”

Rhian is not the only person celebrating a birthday on May 15 – her mother also turns 92 on this date.

She said they plan to mark the day by lunch with Rhian’s sister, before she heads to Eryri on Saturday (May 18) for a hike – another thing she wants to tick off her “bucket list”.

Now a trustee of St Kentigern, Rhian also volunteers at the hospice’s Abergele shop.

While abseiling down the church, Rhian wore a Hi-Viz Megasheds jacket, in a show of appreciation to the garden building company which sponsored her £250.

She added: “I decided that, as I’m 60 this year, it was time for me to reach out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to achieve something that luckily I’m well enough to do.

“I’m petrified of heights and have issues with my balance due to my poor eyesight, and being a cancer survivor myself on two separate instances, I am lucky enough to be given another chance in life.

“Many aren’t in that situation. You can’t change the past, but you can influence the future.”