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Wheelchair user from Clayhall to abseil down Arcelormittal Orbit, Stratford, for charity

PUBLISHED: 13:00 19 February 2019

Teacher Jemma Collins plans to abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit in April. Picture: KEN MEARS

Teacher Jemma Collins plans to abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit in April. Picture: KEN MEARS

Archant

A wheelchair user is to do a free fall abseil down the country’s largest sculpture in memory of her dad.

Jemma and her dad. Picture: JEMMA COLLINSJemma and her dad. Picture: JEMMA COLLINS

Jemma Collins of Caernarvon Drive, Clayhall, plans to lower herself down the Arcelormittal Orbit in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, in tribute to her father, Roy, who died 10 years ago, aged 62.

Jemma, who teaches maths at Heathcote School and Science College, Chingford, said: “I’m a little bit nervous, but I’m looking forward to it.

“My dad supported me in every way. He always put others before himself. I would not be where I am now without him.”

But the 35-year-old is no stranger to adventure having completed a parachute jump on the first anniversary of taxi driver Roy’s death.

Teacher Jemma Collins plans to abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit in April. Picture: KEN MEARSTeacher Jemma Collins plans to abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit in April. Picture: KEN MEARS

She added that raising awareness of spinal muscular atrophy also inspired her to take the plunge 262 feet down the Orbit.

Jemma was diagnosed with the muscle wasting genetic condition at the age of two.

Nine years ago she could walk, but she is now in a wheelchair unable to stand or bear her own weight. She has a full time carer who helps with daily tasks including in the classroom.

“It has a huge effect on a person’s day to day life,” Jemma said. “I need help with everything.”

But that doesn’t stop Jemma – who also has type one diabetes – from leading a full and rewarding life.

“I love teaching. It’s my life. I absolutely love my job,” she said. “I want people to know that with enough effort and determination anyone can achieve their goals.

“There’s a lot I can’t do, but a lot that I can.”

And Jemma has the support of a loving family and her students who are keen to watch their teacher complete the challenge.

“There’s been a really positive reaction at the school, which has been brilliant. The students are quite impressed,” Jemma said.

On April 13, Jemma will go up the Orbit in her wheelchair before being hoisted out of it with the help of abseil experts from aerial adventure firm Wire and Sky.

She will then start her descent to the ground where her carer and chair will be waiting.

To sponsor Jemma, who hopes to raise more than £3,500 for the charity Spinal Muscular Atrophy Support UK, visit justgiving.com

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