Daredevil gran from Grangemouth prepares to abseil from Forth Bridge

Rose Watt will abseil from the Forth Road Bridge a day after her 82nd birthday
Rose Watt will abseil from the Forth Road Bridge a day after her 82nd birthday
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The store manager prepares to take the plunge into the unknown.

He strips down to his swimming trunks, snaps his goggles into place and eases himself into a big bathtub of cold baked beans to have his picture taken and receive praise and pounds from staff, family and friends.

We have all witnessed a scene like this, either in person or watching Children In Need on any given year.

The guy, who usually seems to be in his mid 30s or early 40s, has done a good thing to raise cash for a worthy cause, but, let’s face it, he didn’t exactly stretch himself to the limits or put himself in a particularly precarious position.

Well, unless he was allergic to baked beans.

Grangemouth gran Rose Watt will celebrate her 82nd birthday on Saturday and then head for South Queensferry on Sunday to abseil 100 feet to the ground from the iconic Forth Bridge.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “It’s always been at the back of my mind. I first saw people abseiling at Leuchars Air Show years ago and I thought I would love to do that. At the time, my son Jimmy said no way mother, you can forget it.

“When I told my family about signing up for the Forth Bridge abseil they said, ‘She’s off her head, get her certified’.”

Three generations of the Watt family will be taking the scenic ‘rope express’ down from the rail bridge, with daughter-in-law Kate Watt (57) and grandaughter Amy Horvard (29) also taking up the charity challenge.

Rose admits she is doing it for the experience, but, more importantly, to raise as much money and awareness for Alzheimers Scotland as possible. It’s a charity which is close to her heart and one she feels does not get enough publicity compared to other organisations.

She said: “My husband had dementia and Alzheimer Scotland help us a lot.”

Rose was married to James, or Jimmy as he was known, for 59 years. But he sadly died three years ago after succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease, a condition which saw him relying almost completely on the care provided by Rose near the end of his life.

“Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease,” said Rose. “You look at the person and you see them looking great and it’s hard to tell that anything is wrong with them. I remember people would tell me Jimmy looked great, but at that time I was having to wash and dress him.

“It’s not something that debilitates the body, it affects the mind and it’s such a shame. It’s really hard on the people who look after those with Alzheimer’s and they are usually the person’s husband or wife.”

Alzheimer Scotland is the leading dementia organisation in the country and campaigns for the rights of people with dementia and their families, providing an extensive range of innovative and personalised support services.

The charity offers information and advice in the form of special workshops designed to help those affected by the disease.

A spokesman said: “Dementia can bring many challenges, both for the person with the diagnosis and for those close to them. Attending a course or a workshop can help you learn how to live as well as possible with dementia, at any stage of the illness.

“Some courses are for people with dementia, some for partners, families and carers and many are for both together. They are enjoyable and interactive, and as well as learning lots, you will be able to get to know other people and share experiences.”

Rose received support from Alzheimer Scotland when Jimmy was alive and now she wants to return the favour in memory of her husband. The family’s fundraising efforts are well on the way to the £1000 mark and Rose is already looking forward to her next charity challenge, whatever that may be.

She said: “I do bits and pieces of fund raising. I love walking and cycling and getting out in the fresh air. I like to try something different, but I will probably save the bungee jump for another time.

“I’m up for anything. I’ll see what turns up next year.”

Alzheimer Scotland asked Rose and those looking to take part in Sunday’s abseil to make a pledge to raise a minimum of £150 and provided sponsor forms and fund raising tips. Experienced team members will be on hand on the day to take participants through the techniques involved in abseiling and ensure their descent to the ground is as safe as possible.

The fear of heights can paralyse the best of us, but will not be a problem for Rose on Sunday.

“If I had suggested me doing anything like this to my husband he would probably have been worried there would be some kind of accident. I’m not the least bit concerned. If anything does happen to me on the way down you can tell everyone I was doing something I really wanted to do.

“I have angina, but it’s not a problem. I don’t bother it and it doesn’t bother me. I don’t think there is an upper age limit for these abseiling days - I’ve heard of someone aged 80 doing it.

“My daughter-in-law doesn’t like heights so I’ll be telling her not to look down.”

Obviously some of the Watt family seem to have adventure in their blood.

Rose’s grandson Callum (26), currently stationed in Antarctica on a scientific mission, was hailed a hero after his efforts helped a stricken yacht safely back to shore during a round-the-world race two years ago.

Grandsons Callum, Stuart (23) and Graham (18) will be rooting for Rose, Kate and Amy on Sunday, as will sons Jimmy (58) and Alan (62) and daughter Moira Lapsley (48).