Judith from PWS service Gretton House abseils the Northampton Lift Tower

November 10, 2021

46-year-old Judith lives at our specialist residential Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) service, Gretton House, located in the country village of Gretton, Northamptonshire. Gretton is a very homely Grade II listed manor house, built in the mid-1800s, providing accommodation for 16 individuals.

What is PWS?

PWS is a rare, genetic condition which occurs in one in every 22,000 births and is characterised by a persistent hunger, excessive appetite and lack of satiety cues, as well as a number of physical symptoms, learning difficulties and behavioural challenges. At Consensus, we support over 90 individuals with PWS in 22 residential and supported living services across the UK. This includes people living in one of our 12 specialist PWS services or in a service for people with learning disabilities and autism.

Judith and her ‘daredevil’ nature…

Judith is known as the ‘biggest daredevil you could ever meet’ and loves anything you’d describe as ‘not for the faint hearted’ like, quad biking, horse riding and rollercoasters (the bigger the better). Her key worker Lauren says, “Activities that Judith finds most exciting would probably make an average person’s blood run cold!”

The most recent adventure for Judith was a bit more thrilling than any of the above… an activity known as ‘extreme abseiling’. At midday on 9th October, she achieved a long-held ambition by abseiling down the Northampton Lift Tower – which is a whopping 418 feet high!

The abseil had been highlighted in Judith’s person-centered planning folder for a while, along with many other ‘daredevil’ activities, but due to the Covid pandemic she was unable to complete them. Now the Gretton House team are actioning all of the things she wishes to do, starting with the 418 feet of sheer terror!

Lauren says “The minute we were able to travel a bit further afield, Judith said she wanted to get her abseil booked. As Judith’s key worker I found this so exciting, as I love nothing more than to see Judith happy and I knew this was going to bring her so much joy. I did have to explain that under no circumstances was I brave enough to accompany her to the top but that I would be right there at the bottom cheering her on. She rightly laughed at me for being a wimp but was happy I was coming to support her.”

Mission accomplished in style

As Lauren greeted Judith outside the tower, she recollects how cool, calm and collected she was, “She was not fazed at all. In fact, she was raring to go!” And that she was… once she was all kitted-up, and a member of the team at the tower had reassured Lauren that they had done everything to ensure Judith could safely complete her mission, she was off!

Heart in mouth, Lauren remembers the anticipation as Judith’s two legs suddenly crept over the edge at the top of the tower. After a little manoeuvring and some team efforts from the abseil staff, Judith was over that edge and on her way down.

Lauren says, “We watched in awe as this little superstar came jumping and air walking down this ginormous structure, and we were cheering her name and shouting words of encouragement. When she reached the bottom, they lowered her into a chair, and she let out a jubilant cheer complete with fist pump into the air. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried tears of joy. Her beaming face was something I will remember forever, and I’ve never been prouder of her. I cannot stress how high this structure is and she just took it all in her stride. The staff at the tower all congratulated her and said how incredible she was, and we couldn’t agree more.”

And Judith was so chuffed with her achievement that she treated herself to a well-deserved cider afterwards.

Judith fundraises for the Alzheimer’s Society…

Judith was originally going to do the abseil for fun but then realized she could raise some much-needed funds for a charity of her choice. With the Alzheimer’s Society holding a particularly close place in Judith’s heart, as her dad had Alzheimer’s before he passed away, Judith knew the money raised would go to a great cause; helping people who are in the same sad situation as her parents were.

Not only did Judith accomplish her personal mission, but she also raised over £300! She is so grateful to everyone who has sponsored her and will be equally grateful for anymore donations that come in. If you would like to sponsor Judith, then please visit her Just Giving fundraising page – www.justgiving.com/Judith-Dillon

Lauren says, “Judith is living proof that disabilities do not define a person. We can push ourselves to the very brink of our capabilities and achieve more than we ever expect. I don’t think Judith has any idea just how big an accomplishment the abseil was, but she is definitely happy with herself and that’s what matters. Keep your eyes peeled for her next wild adventure, there are plenty more in the pipeline and I cannot wait to get more of her hopes and dreams ticked off the list. Ziplines and skydives to name a couple. Well done Judith, we are all SO proud of you!!”

Congratulations to Judith for completing a challenge that most people wouldn’t dare to take on. What a towering achievement! 

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