AUSTRALIA - Forty Five Plunge off Bridge

( [email protected] ) Nov 10, 2003 11:40 AM EST

The Crusaders Union of Australia held its "Pylon Plunge" on Saturday, November 8, with 45 people of all ages prepared to jump off the Sydney Harbour Bridge's South West Pylon, abseiling down the 87 metres, to raise funds for the Christian youth organisation.

This year, the youngest was Alice Bolt, aged 13, who attends SCEGGS Darlinghurst and the oldest was 73-year-old Margaret Clarke, a pensioner from Lindfield who attends St Matthews Anglican Church, West Pymble. Ms. Clarke has been involved with Crusaders for over 30 years and is a regular abseiling trainer in the camping programs. She was able to raise $1,750 in sponsorships for this year's "Pylon Plunge".

"The Scots College boys raised $500," said Margaret. "My church friends raised $800 and the Seniors School at Wesley Mission, where I am involved, raised $110. Every cent helps."

It was estimated that a total of $40,000 was raised by the participants, with nine even raising more than $1,250 each. The target had been $800 per participant.

The prize for raising the most funds went to Dave Ford, a solicitor who raised $3,280. Dave, aged 53, attends St James Anglican Church, Croydon. His prize, a 68cm Widescreen TV, was donated by Harvey Norman.

In presenting Mr Ford with his prize, James Miller, the Executive Chairman of Crusaders, explained that 30,000 young people go through their wide variety of camps and leisure activities each year, but last year 400 had to be turned away as there was a shortage of resources and finance to accommodate them.

Founded in 1930 by Howard Guiness, Crusaders offers a range of school camps, holiday camps and leadership training programs. He was keen to strengthen Christian work among school students and saw voluntary groups as a key to achieving this. From small beginnings in just four schools, Crusaders has now grown to serve 100 schools in New South Wales.