Livingston Pensioner Goes Forth with Charity Abseil

A 75-year-old West Lothian man is showing no signs of slowing down in retirement after leaping from great heights in aid of charity.

John Thompson, an ex-military piper and formerly of the 1st Royal Highland Fusiliers, took on the ‘Ultimate Abseil’ off the Forth Rail Bridge, raising more than £525 for Chest, Heart and Stroke (CHSS) and special needs learning schools in West Lothian.

John, who is a tenant at Bield’s Craigengar Park in Livingston, put aside his fears and joined 230 other daredevils on Sunday 21st October to take the 165ft plunge from the bridge’s viewing platform to the beach below.   

Although known locally for being a ‘serial fundraiser’, John believes that the event was one of the most thrilling yet terrifying experiences that he has undertaken.

He said: “It was terrifying being on the bridge, my knees were shaking. I nearly had to bring a spare pair of trousers!

“Although it was scary, it was a great experience and I am proud that I conquered my fear and went through with it.

“I had great support on the day from my friends and family.

“Not all of the donations are in yet, but I have currently managed to raise £525 for CHSS.”

Over the last few years, John has raised more than £50,000 for various charities including Save The Children, Prostate Cancer UK and Poppy Scotland.

Last year, he also made a splash by raising £7,398 for local Alzheimer’s and dementia facilities, swimming 32 lengths in 38 minutes at his local pool.

More than £103,000 has been raised by those involved in this year’s abseil, with the funds to be spent on improving the lives of people living with chest, heart or stroke conditions.

Alison Acosta, Head of Support Fundraising at CHSS, said: “We had a brilliant day. The amount raised is absolutely phenomenal and will make a real difference the quality of life of people living with chest, heart or stroke conditions in Scotland.    

“The immense effort and support of our fundraising heroes means that we can provide a lifeline for people in Scotland who are isolated, scared or anxious about their condition and ensure that they get the support and services they badly need.

“Our supporters who took part were amazing!  We are always overwhelmed at how much people raise for us and the motivation people have to support us, I’d like to thank them all.”

Sign up now for next year’s Forth Rail Bridge Abseil on 9th June or 6th October 2019 at

Craigengar Park, Livingston, is a Bield development for those aged 60 and over who want to be able to retain their independence while having help on hand when needed.

Bield has been providing high quality housing for older people in Scotland for more than 40 years, offering a range of housing and services for around 20,000 older people across 23 local authority areas.