A Broughty Ferry woman, who has spent a lifetime “terrified” of heights, is set to face her fears with a 130ft abseil in memory of her late husband.
Tomorrow (Saturday) Janette Simpkins (57) will be one of 63 people taking part in the Marie Curie Daredevil Challenge at the University of Dundee Tower Building.
While most will be understandably anxious Janette’s chronic vertigo adds another level to this monumental physical and mental challenge.
Janette explained: “I’m terrified of heights. When I was a teenager and my husband and I were dating we went to Blackpool Tower and I couldn’t get beyond the lift. I am really, really bad but when I saw this was for Marie Curie, I set my mind to doing it.”
Janette’s husband Ed was just 33 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Initially the young couple believed that an operation and radiotherapy had killed the cancer but in April 1990, they received the shock news that the tumour had returned and that Ed’s condition was now terminal.
Janette, who at the time was 20 weeks pregnant with her third child, was determined to honour her husband’s wish to be at home at the end of life.
Forced to wind up the couple’s car repair business, Eastport Coachworks, Janette was stretched to her limits trying to care for her husband, daughters Emma (7) and Sarah (6) and herself.
That is when Marie Curie Cancer Care stepped in, with nurses which could care for Ed in his own home during the night which allowed Janette to sleep.
Janette remains grateful to the nurses who helped her through that traumatic time. She said: “The nurses were just lovely women who came in and helped me.
“One of them would sit and knit booties and matinee jackets for the baby because they knew I would never get the chance to do that.
“I am so grateful to them for all the support they gave me and for helping Ed be where he wanted to be.”
Ed died on August 31, 1990 at home with his wife by his side. Two months later Janette gave birth to baby Craig and faced a new life alone as a widowed mother of three.
Janette has never forgotten the support that Marie Curie gave her family in their hour of need. She said: “I’ve always been scared of heights but I’m fit and healthy and its my turn to give something back.
“If this raises funds for other families - that’s all good. It’s just a case of mind over matter now and I will do it, there is no going back.”
Petra McMillan, a patron for Marie Curie Cancer Care, said: “All the money we raise with our abseil stays in this postcode area to help other families - like Janette’s - in their time of need.
To support Janette, visit www.justgiving.com/Dundee-Fundraising-Group1