22/10: Soh Wai Ching to join RNLI Tower Run

Celebrity tower runner has taken on the challenge with more than 180 others to reach the top of the UK’s tallest building in record time.

A wave of excitement has been stirred by the arrival of the world’s ‘number one Tower Runner’ Soh Wai Ching from Malaysia to take part in what is to be the UK’s toughest tower climbing challenge: the 62 storeys of 22 Bishopsgate in the City of London.
The run – though the 180 or so competitors have the option walking, or crawling their way up the 1,120 steps – is in aid of a new RNLI Lifeboat Station for the Central London Thames by Waterloo Bridge.
Soh Wai Ching will be hard to beat. He holds the record for the fastest run up the Empire State Building in New York climbing its 86 floors in 10 minutes, 44 seconds and has several records to his name. Not only is this ‘amazing athlete’ hoping to win the race, he is hoping to set a time for 22 Bishopsgate that will stand unbeaten for a long while.

Rising above its neighbours, 22 Bishopsgate presents a challenge, accepted by Soh Wai Ching and the 180 runners who will be joining him.

Not expecting to beat any records but hoping to finish the course, four of Tower RNLI’s intrepid team are taking part wearing their full Search and Rescue kit. If you can, please support Jai Gudgion (full time helm) and volunteers Martin Cox, Al Kassim and Stephen Wheatley as they take on this monster challenge to raise funds for their new lifeboat station: https://justgiving.com/team/teamtowerrnli

Close up, the enormity of the challenge becomes more immediate. Good luck and thanks to all taking part, and and thanks to all supporters too.

22 Bishopsgate stands on the site of the City of London Tavern where the RNLI came into being in 1824, so that this sky-scraping behemoth is of particular historic significant to the RNLI.

Seen from all around London, 22 Bishopsgate dominates the skyline, so the views from there will be an impressive reward for the climbers.
Dwarfing surrounding buildings, 22 Bishopsgate presents a challenging target for a worthwhile cause.

Further Information
Details and history of Tower Lifeboat Station on the central London Thames and why funds are needed.
Ist article: details and background of the Tower Run, January 23, 2022 Reach for the sky This was postponed.
2nd article: Reach for the sky which is going ahead in a few days on Saturday October 22nd.
If you can, please support Jai Gudgion, Martin Cox, Al Kassim and Stephen Wheatley of Team Tower, who have been in training to climb the daunting 62 floors of the Bishopsgate Tower wearing their full Search and Rescue kit. https://justgiving.com/team/teamtowerrnli
All images ©Patricia Stoughton

The Wall

The National Covid Memorial Wall…

…background to so many pictures of boats taken across the Thames from Victoria Tower Gardens, adds a sad stretch of colour along the embankment.

Organised by Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice with the help of campaigners Led by Donkeys, the first painted hearts began to appear towards the end of March 2021. Ever since then the unofficial National Covid Memorial Wall has stretched for roughly a third of mile below St. Thomas’ Hospital, between Westminster and Lambeth Bridges.

Each carefully painted heart represents one much loved person in the country who died of Covid-19 as marked on their death certificate. Since March 2021 more and more hearts began to appear each week, representing the growing death toll of Covid-19, now up to 205,051 thousand.* In April 2022 a group of students from Central Saint Martins art school volunteered to repaint some of the hearts “giving the memorial a coat of weather-resistant paint”, so it remains plainly visible from across the river.

Since the lifting of all Covid-related restrictions commercial life on the river has returned to normal but the wall, carefully tended, remains as a potent reminder of so much loss and acts as a leitmotif through the following photographs of boats passing beneath it during the past months.

Boats, including M.V. HOLLYWOOD, moored beneath the National Covid Memorial Wall during one of the lockdown periods
GPS Marine tug INDIA side towing her barge of aggregate
Thames Marine Services’ motorised fuel tanker CONQUESTOR
Thames Marine Services fixed refuelling barge and one of the THAMES ROCKETS on Lambeth Reach
The National Covid Memorial Wall running along the Thames embankment, February 2022
Kayakers from the London Kayak Co. heading upstream with the flood tide
NIAD ERRANT one of the Dunkirk ‘Little Ships’
Thames Luxury Charters’ The ELIZABETHAN
The Queen’s Rowbarge GLORIANA
Bunker barge HELENA
Thamescraft Dry Docking Services’ Tug DEVOUT
Thames Clipper STORM
Port of London Authority’s survey vessel THAME
CPBS Marine Services’ multicat SEA DOG
One of Thames Water’s two “Bubblers”, oxygenation boats, THAMES VITALITY
Greenpeace focusing on the protection of our oceans September 22, 2021
Livett’s BRAVO LIMA GB on a filming mission
Port of London Authority harbour service vessel BARNES
Port of London vessel CHELSEA usually patrolling the PLA’s Upper District
LFB fire rescue boat FIRE FLASH from the Lambeth River Fire Station
New London Fire Rescue boat TANNER based at Lambeth River Fire Station
MPS launch GABRIEL FRANKS II, her story, with others, in my article on first responders
Cory tug RECOVERY towing her containers past St. Thomas’ Hospital, where many have received their Covid vaccinations.

The Covid-19 pandemic has marked the country in so many ways with death, long-lasting illness, and restrictions touching everyone. Arguments over lack of preparedness and the breaking of *rules* will doubtless endure a long time but whatever the outcome, images of The National Covid Memorial Wall, whether made permanent or not, will remain engraved in our national history.

Further Information
*Government figures, October 6, 2022.
The Service of Remembrance in Westminster Abbey for those who served and died in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Michael Rosen’s poem ‘These are the hands’ for the NHS.
Terms of reference for the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.