A record-breaking circus performer has undergone her biggest challenge yet – being dangled off the edge of a mountain in Spain.
Penny Clapcott, 27, from Staffords Close, Rustington, was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta type three, which means her bones are extremely fragile.
She has sustained more than 200 bone fractures over the course of her life, but has not let it get in the way of achieving her dreams.
With the help of Norwegian acrobat Eskil Ronningsbakken, the pair scaled Mount Montserrat near Barcelona – a 1,200 metre ascent – with Penny on her friend’s back.
Once at the top, Eskil balanced Penny over the edge of the peak, and held her over it for nearly a minute with only his arms and no harness.
Penny said: “I want to do this challenge to show that anyone and everyone can push themselves to do things they never thought possible. The way I live life is to take as many opportunities while I can because I know things can change in an instant.
“When I first met Eskil in 2009, I knew I wanted to one day create an image with him, and in 2016 we made this happen. Once we got to the top, we put on our costumes, I did a quick internal mental scan of how my body was feeling, did any bones feel weak, any niggles, what was my gut instinct. Everything felt great and I was ready to put my trust into Eskil’s hands.
“It felt like a different trust to any other I’ve felt before, knowing he was only going to be holding me by my hands over the edge.
“Instinct is probably the greatest thing your body does for you but you’ve got to listen and react to it. From the first time I met Eskil I knew instantly I’d be able to trust him, he just has this vibe about him and it’s not just because he balances for a living, it goes much deeper than that. Every balance felt as special as the first one.
“Once we finished I felt incredibly humbled that I’ve just balanced on Mount Montserrat’s edge with Eskil, this incredible guy. This experience will stay with me forever.”
Penny previously swam for Great Britain, breaking several swimming world records. She is now a circus performer and performed for the 2012 London Paralympics opening ceremony, at a show in Los Angeles and regularly appears at gigs across the UK.
“From the word go I didn’t believe in barriers, I just found my own way to get around them,” she said.
“There isn’t much I would say no to. When I was growing up, I decided to test my physical limits, to the point of breaking a bone, but I soon learnt to listen to my body and understand when I had reached the limit.
“This has taught me to stay safe doing circus and in life generally.”
Penny raised more than £650 from the experience, and all proceeds have gone towards the Brittle Bone Society, which provides support to people affected by Osteogenesis Imperfecta.
Penny added: “Having grown up with the BBS I was able to look up to older people with OI and realise there are no barriers to living life in the way you want to. It is your choice, all down to the restrictions you put on yourself.
“I didn’t grow up wondering whether I would be able to drive, get a job or live independently because I saw people like me doing it, giving me a lot of confidence growing up.
“I just wanted to find my own way to do things, they might not be conventional but they get the job done.”
For details about the society, visit www.brittlebone.org. To donate, go to www.justgiving.com/Penny-Clapcott.
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