The orbit structure

Thrill-seekers are delighted that the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the tower built at the site of the London Olympics, is set to be transformed into the world’s biggest helter-skelter.

But what if you can’t wait for the giant slide to arrive to get your adrenaline fix? You can find your own way down this eye-popping structure with #TeamRedCross.

Ralph Ellis did just that when he took on our Orbit Abseil Challenge.

Meet Ralph: the thrill-seeker challenging ideas about disability

In May this year, Ralph Ellis from Lancashire abseiled down the Orbit to raise money for the British Red Cross.

68-year-old Ralph is blind in one eye and has limited vision in the other. He also has angina and diabetes. After a heart attack in 2009 he decided nothing would stop him from living life to the full. Since then he’s taken on loads of personal challenges, including the Orbit abseil.

Ralph said: “The abseil seemed perfect for me. I completed the Great North Swim in 2014 and was looking for something different this year.

“Abseiling is something I’ve never done before. It felt like it would be a unique kind of challenge. And it was something I could do without any training.”

Taking part in challenging events is one way Ralph proves that you can have a disability and still have a full life and do exciting things.

He said: “I really enjoyed the abseil. Being partially sighted means I couldn’t see where I was going as I lent backwards to step off the platform. But I knew I was in safe hands – the instructor talked me through what I was doing and made sure I was okay.”

Ralph Ellis taking part in the Orbit abseil challenge

Ralph has volunteered with the Red Cross for 28 years – as a first aider, educator and fundraiser. Gaining sponsorship for the abseil gave him a reason to take that step over the edge – and he knows the money raised will go to help those who need it most.

What would Ralph say to anyone thinking of signing up? “Do it. It will be a challenge but don’t feel scared. You’ll have a great time.”

Why not take Ralph’s advice and join #TeamRedCross for the Orbit abseil: a 262ft free-fall drop over the edge of the tallest sculpture in the UK. Sign up today.

A woman abseils down the Orbit tower