TWO thrill-seeking pensioners celebrated their birthdays by completing a daring 100ft abseil to raise vital cash for sick children.

Helen Dick and Anthony “Luke” Lucas share the same birthday and decided to spend their special day abseiling down the front of the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Women’s Centre.

Crowds cheered as the two 75-year-olds went down the wall yesterday and champagne corks exploded when they reached the bottom.

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Ms Dick said she had spotted a leaflet for the charity abseil when she was getting hearing aids fitted at the hospital.

She added: “When I saw it was on my birthday I thought ‘that’s it, it was a sign’. I knew Anthony had the same birthday as me so I challenged him to do it with me.”

Retired bricklayer Mr Lucas added: “I thought if Helen can do, I can do it.”

The pensioners, both from Stanford in the Vale, had never abseiled before but rose to the challenge to raise nearly £1,000 for Oxford Children’s Hospital.

Ms Dick, a retired nurse, said it was the best birthday ever, and she wanted to complete another abseil when she reached 80.

She added: “It was wonderful, lovely – there’s a first time for everything and I just went for it.”

Mr Lucas, whose daughter and granddaughter watched nervously among the crowd of dozens of people below, said: “I was up against it at first. I panicked a little, but once I got going it was all right.”

The pair were welcomed back to earth with a glass of champagne and a birthday cake.

Nearly 120 people aged 18 to 80 took the plunge during the event, which was organised by the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Charitable Funds.

Each fundraiser could choose to raise cash for the children’s hospital, the Silver Star Society, for mums having difficult pregnancies, Heads Up, for patients with neck and head cancer, the Churchill’s day surgery unit, or the Cancer and Haematology Day Treatment Unit and Outpatients Fund.

Joining the fundraisers was Lady Pippa Baldry, chairwoman of the Children’s Hospital Benefactors’ Board, who conquered her fear of heights to tackle the abseil. The wife of former Banbury MP Sir Tony wore a learner driver plate on the back of her harness when she made the 100ft descent.

Lady Baldry said she was delighted with the support from the cheering crowd, but was still shaking when she reached the bottom.

She added: “Standing on the edge I don’t think I have ever been quite so terrified.

But once you’re brave enough to lean back it’s not quite so scary.”

The charitable fund’s director of fundraising Jayne Ozanne said the event had raised an estimated £25,000.

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