Daredevil Scots gran, 87, takes on 160ft zip wire challenge for charity

A daredevil 87-year-old gran took on a 160ft zip line to raise funds for homeless people in Scotland.

Mary Mackay raised £4,000 for those battling addiction and homelessness in Edinburgh and the Lothians. The pensioner, from Edinburgh, completed the daring fundraiser at Glentress Go Ape in Peebles on Friday, May 24.

The 'nannie' of four told Edinburgh Live: “I say no matter what age you are, provided you are fortunate enough to be healthy, then you are never too old for an adventure and this was a great one. I was not scared and I was surprised that my vertigo did not kick in.

"I’ll be honest and admit I thought I’d keep my eyes closed during the whole zip wire but I didn’t, I kept my eyes open the whole time. It was amazing seeing the whole view. I was fighting the rain on my face but during it, I did not feel as though I was that high up."

Mary raised funds for Steps To Hope, a charity dedicated to helping those suffering from homelessness and addiction. She originally planned to take part in the charity's sleep out but they feared she was too old.

It inspired Mary to take on something more daring in her fundraising efforts. She spent several years working with vulnerable refugees in Calais and later working alongside the homeless community in Edinburgh.

Mary tackling the rope up to the platform.
Mary tackling the rope up to the platform. -Credit:Steps To Hope

Before the zip wire, she said: “While out on the street I discovered people that I never imagined would find themselves in such a position, it really opened my eyes. As a society we often pass the homeless in the street and see them as nothing but actually a lot who are homeless, have just suffered from a downward spiral, and that often leads to addiction on the streets.

"With addiction, you would see people who had just arrived on the streets being targeted. One young guy, in particular, was all fresh faced and within six months, the difference was awful. Someone came with a wee white packet and said if you like it I’ll get you more.

“You understand why they want to get themselves into oblivion as they are living such a miserable life. That is why I think what Steps To Hope are doing is a real game changer, they are helping people get their lives back.

“I think it is important for us to humanise the homeless. There is a story behind everyone on the streets. It is amazing how many people were leading normal lives and then found themselves on the streets.

“Unless you put yourself in a position to talk to people on the streets, you do not realise that there are a lot of lovely people. Some politicians say homelessness is a life choice and I find that ridiculous, why would someone make that choice.

“What we did on the streets was a sticking plaster, however Richie and Steps To Hope are doing something so positive to turn peoples lives around.”

You can still support Mary's fundraiser here.

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our daily newsletter here.