8 Nov 2023

Tower Hamlets teachers doing London's Air Ambulance Charity's abseil

Earlier this year, three teams from Tower Hamlets schools took on our 2023 helipad abseil and raised an amazing £8,000.  

London’s Air Ambulance Charity was delighted to welcome staff from schools in our local community to our helipad, 17 floors up on the roof of The Royal London Hospital to take on the descent.  

The abseil challenge sees individuals descend 284ft in a free-hang aspect all the way down to the ground from the highest helipad in Europe. It’s a perfect opportunity to experience the East London skyline from a new angle! 

Teams from Marner Primary School in Bow and Swanlea School in Whitechapel were joined by a team of six headteachers from other schools across the borough. There was a real sense of excitement mixed with trepidation from all taking part.  

Jemima Reilly, Headteacher of Morpeth School in Bethnal Green, said: “I can see the helipad at The Royal London from my office window. It’s right in the heart of Tower Hamlets and not only an important part of our community but a source of pride. I’ve been lucky enough as a leader to learn from the experience and expertise of leaders with London’s Air Ambulance Charity.

Jemima Reilly, Headteacher of Morpeth School
Jemima Reilly, Morpeth School Headteacher

"An opportunity to give back, that would also get me out of the office and well out of my comfort zone seemed too good to miss. I had a fantastic time and it felt like a real privilege to participate.” 

Tom Foster, Headteacher of Seven Mills Primary School on the Isle of Dogs, said: “When the opportunity arose to be able to raise money for London’s Air Ambulance Charity by doing an abseil from the helipad, I jumped at the chance. The work they do is incredible and I am proud that my small contribution will help keep them running.”  

Swanlea School has supported London’s Air Ambulance Charity with fundraising for many years and the helipad is visible from the school site. This was the first time school staff had taken part in the abseil. Their brilliant team name was Abseilute Swanlea Legends and they did not disappoint. The school was holding a Family Fun Day on the same date as the abseil and so the team went straight back to the school to share their experience with colleagues and families - hopefully inspiring some to sign up for next year! 

James Heale, Tower Hamlets Heads Group 
James Heale, Tower Hamlets Heads Group

“It was an honour and a privilege to take part in the abseil. Our team’s age profile ranged from the sprightly over 20s to the less agile over 60s! This opportunity not only gave us the pleasure of raising over £2,000 but helped us achieve the personal goal of abseiling off a tall building. All in a good cause,” said Ranjan Dudhia, Swanlea School.  

“I wanted to take part because I thought it would be a good way of conquering my fear of heights, bonding with my colleagues and raising money for a fantastic cause. The experience was like no other I've ever had - hanging in the space between the abject terror of having no solid ground for 17 floors, and the tranquility of the panoramic early morning London skyline. I would absolutely do it all over again,” said Simon Treadwell, Teacher, Swanlea School.   

Assistant Headteacher at Marner Primary, Sam Sharpe, said: "At the start of the year, Headteacher Sarah Bowmer asked the staff about fundraising for charities that are local. When she found out about this event, she immediately asked if anyone was interested in being part of the team. Five of us made the decision to be part of it and I can safely say it was an amazing experience.

"From the roof of The Royal London Hospital we can see Marner Primary School in Bromley by Bow. We have run events with the air ambulance every year, encouraging the children and families to better understand the charitable nature of the service and how important it is as a life-saving tool for people all over the south of England. To know that we were part of a group of teachers that raised over £8,000 is incredible! 

"It was one of the most thrilling and exhilarating experiences of my life and knowing the money raised will be used to save lives feels incredible."

We’re hugely grateful to all involved for their incredible fundraising efforts and hope to welcome more school teams in 2024. If you are interested in taking part in the Helipad Abseil in September 2024, please register your interest here.

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