Reach for the Skies this Summer to raise funds for Southend’s new hospice

July 7, 2019 by

You can reach for the skies and raise money for Southend’s new hospice, which is currently under construction in Prittlewell, by abseiling or bungee jumping this August.

Havens Hospices are appealing for adrenalin junkies to join them on 31st August to help raise the final funds needed for a new Fair Havens Hospice in Southend, which is being built opposite Priory Park.

Thrill seekers can take on an abseil down London’s Tallest Sculpture - the 114-metre-high ArcelorMittal Orbit or bungee an incredible 160 feet above the London skyline at the Lee Valley Velopark at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.

Amanda O’Donnell conquered the abseil in May to raise money for the charity so that others can get the same high quality of care Fair Havens gave her father.

“I have supported Havens Hospices for many years both by volunteering and fundraising as I wanted to help a local charity and I knew the hospices do amazing work,” said Amanda. “However, it is not until you need them that you realise how vital that work really is.”

At the end of 2017 Amanda’s father was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer and was given approximately one year to live.  

“During that year he was determined to stay at home despite recommendations of a care home,” continued Amanda. “I had spoken to the district nurses about going to the hospice if he got to that stage and the day care team were in touch with me to see where they could help. 

“When it got near the end and we were both struggling to cope the district nurse did a referral to see if we could get Dad into the hospice.  Walking in there and seeing their analysis of my dad within half an hour was amazing.  He was made much more comfortable and the pressure was removed from me of being his carer.  To have their amazing team looking after both him and our family was a great relief and they did everything they could for all of us.  I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

Amanda is no stranger to raising funds for the hospice, including doing a 100km non-stop walk, a fire walk and a wing walk, but this was her biggest challenge to date as she doesn’t like heights.

“I decided if I was going to an abseil then I wanted to do it properly.  Therefore, I picked the biggest freefall abseil in the UK,” she said.  “I didn’t think I would ever need the hospice, but I will be eternally grateful they were there when we needed them.  This is why I was hanging there over London completely out of my comfort zone, hating every second and being very scared.  To fundraise for Havens Hospices is the least I can do for this outstanding charity.”

Leigh on Sea Running Club member, Wally James is preparing to bungee on Sunday 31st August, having already raised funds for Havens Hospices this year by taking part in the Southend Half Marathon.

“I like doing challenges,” he says, “and now want to do them as a way of raising money for good causes. It’s important to help others and I want to show people they can join in and help – Havens is such an important local charity that supports the local community in South East Essex.

“I’ve never done a bungee jump before,” he continues, “and I’m anticipating it with both joy and fear. But I’ve also persuaded three more people to sign up since I decided to do it, and I intend to persuade even more before the day itself!”

Havens Hospice Event Fundraiser, Emma Hamilton said, “The local community have already come together so much and have helped raise and amazing amount of money for the new hospice, but we are now entering the final push as we get ever closer to hitting our target and also to opening the doors on new Fair Havens. We can’t do this without our wonderful supporters like Amanda or Wally who take on challenges like this to help raise money for us and secure the future of local hospice care. We’d love even more daredevil fundraisers to join us for the abseil or bungee jump in August and make a huge difference to their local community.”

The charity now only has £400,000 left to raise and the hospice is expected to be completed by Spring 2020 and will cover the population of Southend, Castle Point and Rochford. It will bring together a range of specialist services to support people in making choices about their care from the day they receive their diagnosis, as they journey with their illness and as the end of their life approaches.

Both the bungee and abseil are on Saturday 31st August. There’s a £50 registration fee with a minimum £200 requested fundraising pledge. Coach transportation is available on the day if required for an additional cost. 

If you’ve been inspired by Amanda and Wally and would like to join Havens Hospices for this challenge please visit or e-mail Emma Hamilton at or call 01702 220308.


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