Whitburn Piper Alpha survivor tells of his pride in his fundraising daughter

Katie Swales and her father VinceKatie Swales and her father Vince
Katie Swales and her father Vince
A Piper Alpha oil rig survivor has told of his pride in his daughter after she scaled the heights to help him in his new fight against adversity.

Vince Swales, 61, praised 33-year-old Katie Swales for her 165ft abseil down the Forth Rail Bridge, near Edinburgh.

She did so to raise research funds into Parkinson’s, the disease her dad has been battling for six years.

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Katie Swales during her abseilKatie Swales during her abseil
Katie Swales during her abseil

Her personal efforts have so far raised over £3,000 for the Parkinson’s UK charity - six times her target – with her team’s total passing £12,000.

Mr Swales, from Whitburn, was one of just 61 people to escape the world’s most deadly oil rig disaster, which killed 167 people in July 1988.

But the dad-of-three, who survived by jumping 60ft into the water, admits he is still coming to terms with his health diagnosis.

He said: “I am especially proud of her for taking this abseil on as she is not normally happy to even put her foot onto a step ladder.

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“Things like Katie’s abseil are so important, it raises awareness and helps fund Parkinson’s UK’s effort into findings a cure.

“It helps the charity provide immeasurable support to people with the condition and their families.

Mr Swales realised something was amiss with his health a decade ago when an arm wouldn’t swing while he walked.

He describes a foot also seeming to have grown, and he developed a tremor in his right hand.

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His GP sent him for a brain scan and initial results gave him the all clear.

It negative test allowed him to carry on working as a foreman linesman on electricity grid pylons.

But by 2012 he started to feel fatigued while at work and further tests revealed Parkinson’s.

Mr Swales, who no longer climbs pylons for a living and instead has ground-based responsibilities.

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Katie, who now lives in Perth, Scotland, said she did the abseil to raise awareness of Parkinson’s and to support Parkinson’s UK.

She added: “I may not be able to control what is happening to him but I felt that I had to do something.

“Although going up there absolutely terrified me, I did it for him.

“Dad has already overcome so much after surviving Piper Alpha.

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“For another battle to present itself in the form of Parkinson’s to someone who had already experienced so much heartache was more difficult than I can describe.

Donations can still be made at www.justgiving.com/Katie-Swales1