Great-grandmother, 78, takes on abseil challenge for St Claire Hospice

PUBLISHED: 08:54 06 September 2018 | UPDATED: 08:54 06 September 2018

Selina Young (bottom right) and Pia Young (far right) took part in the abseil with four others. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Selina Young (bottom right) and Pia Young (far right) took part in the abseil with four others. Picture: CONTRIBUTED


A grandmother and granddaughter team abseiled down the UK’s tallest sculpture at the Olympic Park in London for a hospice charity.

Pia Young, a 78-year-old great-grandmother, and teaching assistant Selina Young, 20, both from Stansted, raced each other down the 262ft Orbit Tower during a free-fall abseil on August 25, in aid of St Clare Hospice.

Last year the pair jumped out of a plane for a charity parachute over Chatteris, in Cambridgeshire, and they are now looking at what other adventures they can share.

Pia said: “I was having a race with my granddaughter and she said, ‘nan wait for me’. She is very brave, it was evil nan making her do it.”

“My friends think I’m barmy. They say ‘what are you doing?’ But I just say everybody’s got something barmy about them.”

The adrenaline-fuelled activities ‘spur’ Pia on, she explained.

“When you stop working you don’t have weekends anymore so every day is the same. There’s nothing to get up in the morning for. It spurs you on and is something to look forward to,” she said.

Initially, Pia wanted to do a wing walk but discovered she couldn’t because of her age, and she also considered ice skating.

Born in Rome, Pia spoke no English when she moved to Sawbridgeworth from Italy with her family in 1945.

She has run a Bishop’s Stortford antiques shop, driven Rolls Royces for weddings and, at 15-years-old, worked as a poultry girl in a Sawbridgeworth manor, although her dream was to be a dress designer.

“At the time my parents did not want me to go to college. Basically, girls weren’t allowed to have a career,” Pia said.

Remembering the abseil, Selina said: “I didn’t think I could do it. I was nervous but I’m glad I have done it.”

Speaking about her grandmother, Selina said: “She is crazy.”

The intrepid duo were part of a team of six taking part in the abseil for St Clare Hospice, in Hastingwood. The group is expected to have raised more than £2,500 for the hospice, which provides specialist care for people living with terminal or life-limiting illnesses.

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