Jason Liversidge, 42, was diagnosed with Fabry Disease in November 2012 and Motor Neurone Disease (MND) nine months later. These conditions have left him almost completely paralysed, a wheelchair user and with a much shortened expected lifespan. Most people diagnosed with MND have an expected lifespan of 2-5 years from diagnosis. Despite these challenges Jason has successfully completed the longest zip wire in Europe, climbed Snowdon and abseiled from the Humber Bridge – all in aid of various charities. He has now set his sights on his next big challenge, becoming the first virtually paralysed man to abseil into Lancaster Hole, part of the largest cave system in the UK.
Wife Liz says, “He may be virtually paralysed – but he is still coming up with hare-brained schemes, which usually become a reality.”
Jason has chosen to raise money for the Bendrigg Trust, an outdoor centre based in Kendal Cumbria, specifically supporting people with disabilities to achieve through adventure. “Back in October 2017, my family and I were privileged to be asked by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) to attend Bendrigg Trust for a short break to try the new Acorn House building complete with hoisting systems funded by the MCF. As well as trying the new facilities we got to have a go on lots of the adventures such as abseiling, zip wire and archery. We had such a good time we wanted to raise funds to allow more families to benefit.”
The challenge, which will take place on Monday 1st October, will involve abseiling into Lancaster Hole which is part of the Ease Gill cave system. Ease Gill is the largest and most complex cave system in the UK with around 41 miles of passages, including connections only passable by cave diving. Jason, aided by Bendrigg Trust and members of the Red Rose cave club, will journey from Bullpot Farm in his all-terrain wheelchair to the cave entrance, squeeze through a man-sized hole in the ground and enter the main shaft which descends 34m (112ft) to the cave floor. Jason has enough function in his hand to operate a specially-adpated descender which will lower him into the cave. Getting out again will be the next challenge and will involve a complex pulley system to return the same way.
When asked why he was doing this challenge, Jason said “I would like others to have the same experiences as myself, it helps to show being disabled is not a reason to have to avoid activities. I am virtually paralysed but with the help of the Bendrigg Trust I will be able to abseil with just one finger!”
Jason and his family hope to raise £2,000 which will enable Bendrigg Trust to support more people with disabilities to achieve through adventure. Part of the money raised will also help to make the ground floor of local cave club, Red Rose, accessible to wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility.
To support Jason and keep up to date with his challenge visit his fundraising page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lancasterpotholechallenge
Disclaimer: The appropriate permissions for access to the caves involved have been gained through the CNCC (Council for Northern Caving Clubs).