Veteran abseils down Blackpool rollercoaster for charity

AIMING HIGH: (From the left) Steve 'Tankie' Allen, a 72-year-old Chelsea Pensioner, Harold Addie, a 90-year-old Normandy veteran and Adam Garthwaite, a 28-year-old Afghanistan veteran.

AIMING HIGH: (From the left) Steve 'Tankie' Allen, a 72-year-old Chelsea Pensioner, Harold Addie, a 90-year-old Normandy veteran and Adam Garthwaite, a 28-year-old Afghanistan veteran.

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A 72-year-old army veteran and Chelsea pensioner has abseiled off the UK’s tallest rollercoaster in aid of the soldier’s charity.

Steve ‘Tankie’ Allen is well known in Preston for his years of fundraising for veterans’ charities.

DESCENT: Steve 'Tankie' Allen, a 72-year-old Chelsea Pensioner, abseils from the top.

DESCENT: Steve 'Tankie' Allen, a 72-year-old Chelsea Pensioner, abseils from the top.

Now he has joined 40 other veterans in abseiling 235 feet off Blackpool’s Big One rollercoaster in aid of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

The volunteers harnessed up to climb to the summit of what is the UK’s tallest rollercoaster before using ropes and winches to safely reach the ground, where they were greeted with applause.

Tankie, who was a standard bearer in Preston before becoming a Chelsea Pensioner, said: “I was a bit apprehensive at first but once I got into it, it was great.”

The 72-year-old, who acquired his nickname driving tanks in the army, said: “I enjoyed it, it was brilliant.

Someone asked if there were any drawbacks and I said yes, you could see Blackpool football ground, because I am a life-long Preston North End fan.

Steve ‘Tankie’ Allen

“It was a fabulous view, you could see for miles.

“Someone asked if there were any drawbacks and I said yes, you could see Blackpool football ground, because I am a life-long Preston North End fan.”

He was joined by 90-year-old Normandy veteran Harold Addie and Corporal Andy Garthwaite of the Royal Lancers, who lost his right arm in Afghanistan in 2010.

Mr Addie travelled from Manchester for the challenge.

HE'S DONE IT AGAIN: Steve 'Tankie' Allen celebrates after he abseils from the top of the Big One rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, in aid of ABF The Soldiers Charity.

HE'S DONE IT AGAIN: Steve 'Tankie' Allen celebrates after he abseils from the top of the Big One rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, in aid of ABF The Soldiers Charity.

He said: “I’ve done it twice before but I keep saying I’m not going to do it again but I keep coming back and in this weather it is great. I have enjoyed it. The only problem with me is climbing up 420 steps.”

Cpl Garthwaite said: “I’ve done an abseil before but that time it was with two arms so I was quite nervous!

“I’m one of the lucky ones who made it back alive but The Soldiers’ Charity has been such a huge help to me and my family.”

The annual event, now in its third year, has seen dozens of daring participants take part and raise thousands for the charity, ABF (Army Benevolent Fund) The Soldier’s Charity, which has been supporting serving and retired soldiers and their families for almost 70 years.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach managing director Amanda Thompson said: “We 
hope that everyone has a fantastic day and that the event raises lots of money for such a worthy cause.”

Yamba UK, a Lancashire-based company set up the abseil by installing the ropes, providing training and undertaking supervision.