Sunday, July 21, 2024
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    A CASTLEWELLAN dad-oftwo has just completed a fearsome challenge, which saw him bedding down for the night, dangling hundreds of metres above the Atlantic Ocean. Buffeted by strong gusts, whilst hanging precariously off the side of a cliff along the County Antrim coast, Sean Devlin went to dizzying heights and had to remain inside a small tent – no bigger than a child’s cot – for the overnight fundraiser in aid of Action for Children.

    Ditching his bed to spend a night in a suspended hanging tent system from the cliffs at Fair Head, Sean and fellow participant Paul Kellagher’s goal was to raise awareness and as much as they could to help young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. During the 25 August challenge, the daring duo braved strong northerly winds, fighting with the gusts as they blew repeatedly against their tents, keeping them awake most of the night.

    The location, also known as ‘The Cliffs of Dragonstone’ to Game of Thrones fans, provided a challenging spot for the pair to abandon the comforts of their beds as they kicked off the Boycott Your Bed challenge in support of the charity. The annual fundraiser sees children, families, friends and colleagues sleeping out in the most unusual places they can think of to raise awareness for vulnerable children across the UK. Sean, a self-confessed “total novice” when it comes to challenges of this nature, had to summon his inner daredevil to take part and was glad to be accompanied by Paul, who is one of Ireland’s most experienced mountaineers and no stranger to heights, with wide experience mountaineering in the Alps and Mont Blanc. However, endeavouring to sleep on the sheer rock face of a cliff at such heights in the tents, also known as portaledges, and all while coping with strong winds was no mean feat! They were spurred on by the fact their fundraising endeavours will help to make a difference to the lives of those supported by Action for Children.

    Sean, who had previously taken part in a sleep-out at Stormont for the charity, said he agreed to take part in this cliff-side challenge as he wanted to take it up a notch this year – and that he most certainly did! With a day’s training at Altnadue Quarry under his belt, where he practised basic abseiling techniques, it wasn’t until the morning of the challenge, and as he neared the Causeway Coast, that the magnitude of what lay ahead began to sink in. During the drive, Sean’s wife, local councillor Laura, and kids Tom and Polly, noticed he had become quieter than his usual self. “I think it was when I was told I had gone really quiet, that the enormity of things was setting in,” said Sean, who is thrilled to have hit his £2,500 fundraising goal earlier this week.

    Thanking everyone for their support, both financially and the support team volunteers who stayed on the cliff top throughout the overnight challenge, Sean said the experience was most certainly memorable. “I had thought that with the challenge taking place in August the weather would be great, but on the drive up, the rain was lashing and the wind was whipping up and at that stage my mind was already starting to play tricks on me!”

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