Earlier this month, Maria Gordon faced her fear of heights and climbed London's O2 arena in memory of her late father, Graham Handley. In this blog, Maria tells us why she chose to support the RAF Benevolent Fund in this incredible challenge.
Maria's father, a Chief Technician in the RAF for 22 years, was diagnosed with cancer and given between six and 12 months to live. Sadly, he passed away just three weeks later. His death tragically came the day after Maria's birthday.
Maria, of Lincolnshire, says: "I always feel guilty celebrating my birthday because Dad died the day after. But I told myself that each year I would push myself to do a challenge and raise money for charity in his honour. This year I wanted to really push myself, and face my biggest fear – heights!"
Admitting that she is petrified of heights and suffers from vertigo, a work colleague suggested that Maria turn it into a fundraising challenge for charity, to ensure that she wouldn't back out.
Having seen first hand how the RAF Benevolent Fund supports service families, it was an easy decision for Maria to raise funds for the RAF's leading welfare charity.
Maria explains: "I have a strong RAF connection. My father was in the RAF for 22 years before he passed away four years ago and my husband is an airman currently serving at RAF Digby, so we see first hand how the RAF Benevolent Fund support service families.
"Since the Fund has revamped the children's play park at RAF Digby the transition has been huge. Our nine-year-old son uses the Airplay facilities including the play park and the youth club."
Maria who works for Serco PLC, one of the contractors at RAF Digby, originally aimed to raise £300 for the charity but has already raised almost £1400.
On reaching the 52 meter summit, Maria said: "It went really well and it was so exhilarating. I felt brilliant when I'd finished. Once I got to the summit, it wasn't so bad. Although, it seemed a lot steeper on the way back down and my legs felt like jelly.
"My husband and I celebrated in London afterwards; it was a brilliant weekend! I'm so grateful to everyone who has supported me in the challenge, especially those at RAF Digby."
You can still support Maria by visiting her fundraising page and making a donation at justgiving.com/fundraising/mazgord7