A cancer survivor who is terrified of heights is steeling herself for a daring wing walking challenge – with the support of Europe’s top trailer maker.
Ali Alcock from Corwen will take to the skies on August 6 in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support – a charity that stood by her side throughout her own battle with cervical cancer in 2015.
The stunt, which comes just 12 months after a heroic sky dive, is being sponsored by Ifor Williams Trailers.
The iconic trailer firm has thrown its support behind all of the social worker’s fundraising exploits over the past six years – helping her to net more than £20,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and the NHS charity, Awyr Las.
In a poignant move, Ali is dedicating her latest challenge to her cousin Mark Weeks, aka ‘Weeksy’, from Johnstown, Wrexham.
The devoted dad was tragically diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour in January this year.
Ali, who is employed by Denbighshire County Council, will be cheered on by her 27-year-old son Danny Jones, dad Barry Jones and best friend Steph Griffiths for the event, which will take place in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
“I’m not sure if it’s amazing or stupid!” admitted the 43-year-old, who has become an ambassador for Macmillan and North Wales representative on the charity’s Volunteer Forum.
“I’m petrified of heights but I always think if you’re going to ask someone to donate money you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and make it worthwhile.
“Still, I’m a little bit nervous. Last year, I was strapped to an instructor – this year I’m going to be all on my own so it’s a bit daunting. It’s completely out of my comfort zone but it has to be to make it a worthwhile challenge.
“I’ve been a survivor of cancer for six years. I had my first experience of Macmillan Cancer Support and the service they provide when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015.
“I know how invaluable they are for people, not just the survivor themselves but also for their families.
“Sometimes it can be hard to open up to friends and family. I’ve always been a positive and upbeat person and am known to be a tough cookie – Macmillan provides someone different to talk to who understands what you’re going through.”
Over the past six years, Ali has held numerous events in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support including a ‘Kit Off for Cancer’ charitable calendar and a carpool karaoke.
She has set herself a target of raising £5,000 this year and hopes local people will continue to dig deep for the cause.
“Ifor Williams has supported every charity event and have backed me to the hilt. They’ve given me amazing prizes for the charity nights and last year, not only did they sponsor my sky dive, they gave me a cash donation too.
“This year, they’re sponsoring the whole wing walk and I cannot thank them enough. The support they give to the local community is absolutely amazing. The reason why I look for sponsorship is because that allows me to give every penny I raise directly to Macmillan.
“I usually have a ballpark figure of £5,000 that I’d like to raise each year. Last year, I raised £6,793 so we smashed it. I did that amid Covid so I’m hoping to do the same again this year.
“Corwen is a very small town but I get so much support from the local community there and in Chirk, it’s wonderful.”
Rob Small, Head of Sales at Ifor Williams Trailers, congratulated Ali on her fundraising achievements and her courage in taking on the wing walk.
“We are so proud to be sponsoring Ali’s wing walking adventure and her fantastic fundraising events,” he said.
“Ali is an example for us all and shows just what can be achieved with a positive, can-do attitude, facing her fears for the benefit of cancer survivors across the UK.
“We wish her the best of luck in this latest event and are looking forward to finding out what she is setting her mind to next!”
Ali was diagnosed with cervical cancer following a routine smear test. She had no symptoms.
“It came as a massive shock but there would have been no other way of knowing – that smear test saved my life,” she said.
“They tried a few different treatments but unfortunately, the only option left was to have a hysterectomy. I always thought I’d have another baby and so it had a massive impact on me. It took away my ability to have any more children as well as my femininity but it also could’ve spread. Luckily, I didn’t require any further treatment and was given the all clear.
“After my initial diagnosis, everything went over my head but I went off with my Macmillan nurse and she made me understand everything I’d heard. They were always at the end of the phone if I needed them or was having a bad day.
“I’ve been fundraising ever since. Whatever they ask me to do, I say yes to and to be honest I’ve had some amazing experiences along the way.
“Cancer changes your whole perspective on life. I now see life through an HD lens and appreciate the things I didn’t appreciate before. I like trying new things – you only live once and you have to take your chances while you can.”
Ali said her cousin had shown immense courage in facing his own cancer battle and had fought every setback with a smile.
“My cousin was diagnosed in January and has had palliative radiotherapy but unfortunately there’s nothing they can do for him. It has been a very turbulent time for him which is the reason why I want to dedicate this challenge to him,” she said.
“He’s a larger than life character and has a wicked sense of humour. He’s really outgoing and is an ex-paratrooper so I thought it would be a nice gesture and I know he was made up to hear I was doing it for him.
“This is not his first brush with cancer as a couple of years ago he was given the all-clear from prostate cancer. He’s so inspirational and has gone through everything with a smile on his face.”
With the wing walking event looming this summer, Ali admitted there was no going back.
“I get vertigo going up a ladder or up a mountain – I really don’t like it – but I have to say, when I did the sky dive, it didn’t really come into play. The fact I was doing it for Macmillan overtook everything,” she said.
“I guess it’s a different thing to be standing on top of a plane, I’m not sure how it will affect me, but I’m hoping the adrenalin will kick in again.”
Eleri Brady Macmillan Cancer Support Relationship Manager said: “Ali is passionate about supporting Macmillan and has raised over £18,000 for Macmillan which will fund a Macmillan nurse for four months, helping people living with cancer and their families receive essential medical, practical and emotional support.”