Flashback to 2003: Facing up to fears in the name of charity

Janice Burns proved she definitely had a head for heights as she took on a daring challenge to raise money for a charity close to her heart.

Janice Burns dressed as Lara Croft has last second jitters on the edge of the building
Janice Burns dressed as Lara Croft has last second jitters on the edge of the building

The mother of three from Kingswinford decided to take the 50ft plunge down the side of Dudley's Showcase Cinema just weeks after her father, Roger Lane, died from oesophagus cancer in December 2003.

The 40-year-old secretary also encouraged other daredevils to join her for the abseil, which took place at the cinema where she worked in Castle Gate.

The event, based on the theme of Oscar winning action heroes, was organised by Cancer Research UK to raise vital funds for research into the causes, prevention, treatment and cure for cancer.

Janice Burns

Participants had been encouraged to come along dressed as their favourite action hero and organisers were hoping to see at least 300 daring Spidermen, Superwomen at the event, which was open to anyone aged 12 and over.

Janice, who has three children, Claire, aged 17, Lucy, aged 14, and Callam, aged 10, put aside her fears to tackle the abseil with daughter Lucy.

Before her father was diagnosed with cancer on his 65th birthday in October 2002, Janice had no idea that the disease would affect her family.

Relatives and friends raised £500 in donations at her father's funeral for Cancer Research UK and after being encouraged by the amount raised, Janice felt the need to do more.

"I can't do anything for him now, but I want to help in any way I can," she told the Express & Star.

Janice's daughter Lucy dressed as Felicity Shagwell from Austin Powers on the edge and all smiles

"My mum and dad were married for 43 years and were very close. My mum is coping as well as she can but is so lost without my dad," added Janice.

The event was a great success, raising £30,000 for the charity, and Janice, dressed as Lara Croft, and her daughter Lucy, dressed as Felicity Shagwell, completed the abseil.

Robert Jinks, community fundraising manager for the charity said: "We're extremely grateful to Janice for having the courage to put her fears aside and take part.

"We rely almost entirely on the support of volunteers to continue funding pioneering research so it's vitally important that we get volunteers to sign up."

Charity abseils have been a popular way to raise money for good causes in the Black Country and Staffordshire over the years.

Janice Burns and her daughter Lucy

Two years before Janice and the other superheroes took the plunge in Dudley, around 50 people went over the edge for Cancer Research at Birmingham (CRAB) when they abseiled down the Sandwell College building in West Bromwich.

Staff and students from Sandwell College joined other locals for the 100ft abseil including the youngest abseiler, 12-year-old Ben Evans, of Hagley, and the oldest Joyce Baldwin, of Oldbury.

In 2015, workers from iconic Staffordshire firm Armitage Shanks tackled the side of the 50ft toilet manufacturing factory in Armitage near Rugeley and raised more than £2,000 for cancer research in the process.

Robert Brown, Dave Barber and Jack Royster were among the 45 daredevils who took part.

Janice Burns with her sister Annette Sibley, mum Margaret Lane and brother Paul Lane

Jenny Smith, of Armitage Shanks, said: “The team members taking part were understandably a little nervous about making their way down the side of the building.

"Luckily, our team is always up for a challenge, and everyone involved gamely stepped forward to scale the heights of the Armitage Shanks factory, with many involved enjoying it so much they almost considered taking part again.

“Our daredevil colleagues have done a sterling job in abseiling down our factory to boost our Armitage Thanks campaign, which raises money for local charities, as well as for national bowel cancer campaigns.”

And in 2016, Black Country recruitment consultants were in high spirits after they raised money for charity by completing an abseiling challenge. Staff from Pertemps Network Group, who are based in Walsall, Wolverhampton and West Bromwich, raised more than £2,000 for Macmillan Cancer Research by abseiling down the four-storey New Art Gallery in Walsall.

Pertemps branch manager in Walsall, Emily Mountney, said: “We all saw taking part in the daring, risky task as a huge personal challenge for us, although we have previously taken part in a range of charitable community events, this abseiling venture is our biggest task to date.”

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