Daventry daredevil Karen Tweedale faced her worst fears to help others.
The Town Council’s former mayor has raised £10,453 for Muscular Dystrophy UK, a national charity that supports her best friend Maria’s family.
During her mayoral year Karen has taken on daredevil challenges including walking the wings of a Boeing Stearman biplane travelling at 120mph and a skydive. She has also hosted fundraising events including a gin and tapas evening, an ABBA Christmas extravaganza and a Coldplay tribute night.
Karen said: “I can’t believe that we have raised so much; I’m absolutely ecstatic.
“I thought that climbing up on the wing of a plane and being strapped to the top as it takes off at 70mph would be scarier than a sky dive. While taking off I had to keep pretending to myself that I was on a ride at Alton Towers. I actually I found the wing walk easier than the sky dive as I didn’t have the suspension of thinking about jumping out anywhere.”
Karen’s best friend has a daughter named Holly Woodard, who lives with Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). It is a genetic muscle-wasting condition that causes muscles to weaken and waste over time leading to increasing disability.
Holly, now 29, said: “Karen is a wonderful kind, determined lady whom I’m very lucky to have in my life. I’m so grateful for her. She’s done amazing. When she first became Mayor she was determined to raise as much as she could – and she’s quite literally gone above and beyond!
"My condition makes my life challenging but I just crack on with it and deal with it the best I can. Muscular Dystrophy UK has provided me with lots of support over the years.”
Karen said: “I first met Holly in 2004, a beautiful blonde girl with Rapunzel hair flowing down her back. She had so much charisma. We were floored by her genuineness and outlook on life. At the tender age of seven Holly was diagnosed with FSHD and was the youngest person in the UK to have a diagnosis.
“By the age of 12 Holly became reliant on a wheelchair. Now at the age of 29 she is also starting to lose some of the use of her hands, which are really important in helping her transfer from her wheelchair.
“Holly has refused to let her diagnosis dictate her life and lives as normal a life as possible by working with children in her local community.”
Now Karen is thinking what else she can do to help the cause.
“The crazy thing is, I’m afraid of heights – even if I go up in the loft, I’m scared of climbing back down – but it seems I’ve got the bug to do more daredevil things. I’m 54, but age is just a number,” she added.
Louise Moffat product development manager at Muscular Dystrophy UK said: “Karen is such an inspiration, and she’s raised such a significant sum for Muscular Dystrophy UK – it will go a long way, helping us to continue to fund research and support people living with muscle-wasting conditions. We couldn’t continue to do what we do without the kindness, generosity and good spirit of people like Karen.”