Daredevils to abseil off the roof of St Thomas' Hospital

Thursday 11 May 2017

A participant taking part in last year's abseil dressed as the Hulk

More than 200 brave supporters and staff with a head for heights will abseil 160 feet down the side of St Thomas’ Hospital on Friday.

Participants looking for an adrenaline rush will abseil off the roof, taking in views of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye along the way. Some of them will be dressed as their favourite superheroes for the occasion.

It will be the second year that the challenge, which is expected to raise around £100,000 for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, has taken place.

Doreen Abel, 68 from Blackheath in South-East London, is abseiling to show her appreciation to staff who have cared for her fiancé Ian McKenzie, 55. He collapsed with severe sepsis on New Year’s Day, the day after they got engaged following 25 years together and she is hopeful they can marry this year thanks to the treatment he has received at St Thomas’.

Doctors found he had blood clots which have caused brain damage and he was put into an induced coma for a month. He is now showing some signs of progress.

Doreen said: “On January 3 I was told to say my goodbyes to Ian but it’s now May and he’s still here. The team at St Thomas’ have done an incredible job. He is unable to speak or swallow but he has regained some movement thanks to his treatment, and he can smile and laugh and show he is aware of what’s going on. I tell him silly jokes all day to keep him going. While we don’t yet know how much of a recovery he will make, we are feeling positive.

“Ian proposed to me on New Year’s Eve and we will marry as soon as he gets his voice back to say ‘I do’. He’s working with speech and language therapists who have been fantastic and they hope he will talk again. I can’t fault the treatment here - all the staff have been amazing. As well as caring for Ian, the doctors made sure I was doing well and mentally able to cope with the situation. They put me at ease and always keep me informed about Ian’s progress.

“I see Ian hoisted every day out of his bed for treatment and I thought, if he can be hoisted up to get better, then I can be hoisted up out of my comfort zone and raise money by doing the abseil! I am absolutely terrified about doing it but it will be an experience. Ian’s eyes opened very wide when I told him what I was doing! My son Archie Abel, 40, daughter Tina Abel, 45,and my niece Serena Abel, 21, are all doing it with me to show their support to Guy’s and St Thomas’.”

The event takes place on the same day as International Nurses’ Day and many nurses from the Trust are taking part in the abseil, along with other staff and directors, including Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’, and Chief Nurse, Dame Eileen Sills.

Eileen said: “We are very grateful to everyone who is braving this challenge to raise money for the Trust. It is also fitting that on International Nurses’ Day many of our nurses have chosen to show their dedication to the Trust by abseiling for us, and I’m excited to take on this challenge with them.”

Find out more about how you can donate or start fundraising for Guy’s and St Thomas’.


Last updated: March 2022

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