Openreach fundraisers take the plunge

Daring jumpers help fund stem cell therapy for colleague

OR Bungee 02

Nine fearless fundraisers from Openreach have taken a heart-pounding leap of faith to support an engineer who’s battling Multiple Sclerosis.

Their sponsored bungee jump off a bridge in Killiecrankie, Perthshire has netted nearly £2000 to help colleague Alana Marshall have specialist treatment in Mexico.

Mum-of-one Alana, a semi-professional footballer with Edinburgh Spartans,  was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) in November 2021. The condition is characterized by periods of relapse where symptoms worsen, followed by periods of recovery.

Determined to improve her quality of life, Alana has set a fundraising goal of £50,000 for stem cell therapy in Mexico. The costly treatment focuses on rebuilding stem cells and strengthening the immune system, which is crucial for those with MS as the condition can erode the immune system.

To help Alana reach her fundraising target, Openreach colleagues from places including Dundee, Carnoustie, Cupar, Newport and Perth took the plunge, quite literally, at Highland Fling, close to the famous site of the Battle of Killiecrankie.

The jumpers - Liam Connor (Dundee), Emily Watt (Cupar), Colin Johnstone (Carnoustie), Sarah Hill (Newport), Gavin Gibson (Perth), Kieran Beardsall (Tayport), Liam Hannah (Perth), Ross Farquhar (Edinburgh) and Hayley Goldthorpe (Peebles) each completed a 50-MPH free fall jump over the River Garry.

Openreach organiser, engineer Emily Watt from Cupar, said: “Falling 40 metres into a gorge is not for the faint hearted! Before the jump we were all feeling a mix of nerves and excitement but after it was brilliant – I would go up there and do it again, 100%.

“We’re determined to raise as much money as we can for the vital treatment Alana needs. She's a real fighter and an inspiration for us all. It will make a huge difference if we can help her get on her way to Mexico – and we're incredibly grateful for any donations people are able to make.”

With their hearts back in their chests and adrenaline levels returning to normal, the team is already brainstorming future daring fundraisers. Ideas such as shark dives and skydives have been thrown into the mix, all with the goal of raising even more funds for Alana's treatment.

The bungee jump has raised nearly £2,300 so far, taking total funds raised by Alana’s family and friends to around £15,000, but there’s still a long way to go. Donations can be made at https://gofund.me/129fbf84

Despite her diagnosis, Alana, 36, remains Spartan FC Women’s Captain and is one of only three players in the club’s history to have made more than 200 appearances.

Fibre engineer Alana said: "The diagnosis was a shock and I’ve struggled at times to keep all the balls in the air with a demanding full-time job, playing semi-professional football, and caring for my three year old, all while living with MS.

“I have good days and bad days. At the moment the treatment I get here at home is keeping me stable, but I know my condition will get worse. The earlier I can fight this illness with stem cell therapy, the better chance I’ll have in the long run.

“I’m so grateful for all the support from colleagues, club-mates, friends and family to help me get the treatment I need. The bungee jump looks amazing and I only wish I could’ve joined them!”