Gherkin Challenge

Written by Nika Garrett on .

Gherkin Challenge

I made it to the top of the Gherkin – Gherkin Challenge for NSPCC

The Gherkin is 180 m high which makes it over three times higher than Niagara Falls. Iconic building designed by Foster + Partners celebrates 10th anniversary this year. Since 2004 a number of taller buildings have been added to London skyline.

That evening however as I stand in front of 30 St Mary Axe, the building seems to look taller than its 180 metres. I can’t stop thinking that in a few days’ time I will be walking up 1037 steps to the top. It is not about the views or exercise. The Gherkin Challenge is organised annually to raise funds for NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). I can race it up or I can walk it, but every step I’ll take, I’ll take for the kids. Every £200 I’ll raise will help pay for 50 calls made to ChildLine from people concerned about a child’s welfare.

The day of The Gherkin Challenge comes and as our train approaches London Bridge station, my 4-year-old daughter jumps up with excitement: “Mummy look! Gherkin!’ My husband adds with a grin: “Yes, and mummy is going to climb it up for the children today’.

 I’m trying to be as cheerful as they are but despite hot weather I’m getting cold feet. I’ve been busy fundraising but I haven’t really done any special training. I did climb up the Monument quite a few times though (311 steps). Obviously, I’m not going to climb the Gherkin. I’m not even going to race to the top. I just want to make it to the top…

There’s a great atmosphere in a pop up village around the Gherkin and green is the colour! Everywhere you look you can see ‘gherkin-eers’ wearing their green NSPCC vests and volunteers in their green NSPCC T-shirts. There are some deck chairs to rest your tired legs or you can have a free massage. While professional hula hoop dancers entertain kids and grown-ups & my daughter joins a queue to get her face painted, I smile at the camera so that my photo can appear on ‘The Gherkin Challenge wall of fame’.

I start chatting with a lady standing next to me. I’m happy to find out that Lisa is going to walk, not race. It’s 2.30 and time for our warm-up accompanied by live music. It’s now a wave time and Lisa and I follow the footsteps of two guys disguised as Batman and Robin. They race, we walk…

We manage the first 10 floors without a break but decide to stop briefly twice before we reach the 38th floor. The volunteers cheer us up and fan our faces! Every floor is clearly marked with a number, which helps a lot. It takes me 13 minutes and 31 seconds and it feels very good. I’m sure it would have taken me longer if it hadn’t been for Lisa walking in front of me.

There is a fantastic atmosphere up there. It is time for our medals, photos and a glass of champagne! It is wonderful to be welcomed by Tee Dobinson the ‘Gherkin Guru’ there and receive her special edition of “360 degrees at the Gherkin” guide book with a lovely dedication. That evening Tee and her son and volunteers take the Gherkin Challenge as well.

Back on the ground I’m greeted by hugs and kisses from a little ‘tiger’ that my daughter has turned into and from my husband who is always there for me. It’s time to celebrate!

It is also time to say thank you to everyone for their support, donations, cheers, congratulations!

I have raised £ 476.65 of £200 target which is 238 %. This money will allow to answer over 100 calls made to NSPCC ChildLine. My fundraising page is open till 7th December 2014.

I’d like to express my special gratitude to my husband Tim, my daughter Zuzia, Tim’s family: Oonagh, Grainne, Simon, Jonathan for their donations and support. There is a long list of lovely friends on Twitter including @GWinLondon and @3Days_in_london who have helped spread the word. I would like to thank Tee Dobinson, The Gherkin Challenge Team and volunteers, and NSPCC for wonderful words of encouragement and congratulations. Please learn more about Tee Dobinson at and visit NSPCC website to find out how your donation will help children suffering abuse and neglect

Many thanks to all the generous and wonderful people: Simon and Wendy Pajak, Andrea Cooper, Andrew Charles Medhurst, Valy, Sarah and Peter, Yannick Pucci, Simon Last, Hannah Velten, Angelica Stedman, Deven Bhurke, Keith Braidwood, Ian Lacey, Vincent Alexander, Maria Perez, Paul Layton, Wadeylady001, Hugh Gallagher, Sue Hillman, John Fowler, Vanessa Schneider, Karen Bain, Tina, Carl Thompson, Mike Reardon, Andrew Hawkes, Kasia Janik, Andy Rogers, Lndonaficionado, Anthony Hill, Tony Karpinski, Anna and those who prefer remain anonymous.
Congratulations to all fellow ‘gherkin-eers’ and good luck with further fundraising!

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