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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Yard men plunge 170ft from bridge

A PAIR of daredevil shipyard workers braved a humongous height to raise cash for charities close to their hearts.

By Molly Lynch

BAE Systems employees Antonio Manzi, 26, and Chris Bayliss, 28, scaled the dizzy heights of Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge and then bungee jumped from it.

The bridge, made famous by TV show Auf Wiedersehen Pet, is the only one in the UK which can be used for bungee jumping.

The pair took part in the 170ft jump to raise cash for St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston and Kusi all-boys orphanage in Peru, which a group of BAE workers visited in 2009 as part of Project Peru.

Mr Manzi and Mr Bayliss were so moved by the plight of the children they encountered on their month-long trip to Peru they were keen to continue fundraising, aiming to make their stunts as daring as possible.

Both men were part of a group of 27 employees who raised £26,000 to fund a trip to Peru three years ago, where they saw first-hand the work of charity, The Vine Trust.

The orphanage is located in a small village called Yunguay, 200 miles north of the capital Lima.

The orphanage helps boys from the age of six to 18 to find family-based security, gain a good education and gives them a chance to have a normal childhood.

The group have not returned to the Kusi orphanage since their visit, but remain in close contact through the charity.

Mr Bayliss and Mr Manzi sent photographs and video of their bungee jump to the children of the orphanage.

Mr Manzi said: “Upon our arrival we quickly learnt that poverty was rife throughout the nation and that families who could no longer cope were left with the dreadful decision of having to let their children go and fend for themselves. The boys would be sent away as they had a slightly higher chance of surviving then a girl.

“As you can imagine the situations the boys found themselves in were utterly shocking and traumatic.

“The courage of those boys is something that stays with me as a lasting memory and is what ultimately led to me and Chris deciding to participate in a series of more daring fundraising events.”

Mr Manzi, a member of the BAE Systems High Potential Programme, was also keen to support South Cumbria’s hospice after a relative was cared for there.

He said: “After having a very close member of the family cared for at St Mary’s Hospice, the organisation has remained very close to me. For the many people who have been unfortunate to be in a situation where a loved one is terminally ill will understand just how important it is.”

In total the pair raised £1,000 from their bungee jump and they are already planning their next stunt.

Mr Manzi said: “We will be participating in two more extreme fundraising events before the year is out, the UK’s tallest bungee jump, a staggering 400ft in South Wales, and a brothers-in-arms sky dive.”

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