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I recently volunteered at Great Ormond Street Hospital’s (GOSH) Walkie Talkie Tower Climb 2020 as a Directional Volunteer.

Imagine that at 7 am in the morning, with strong, gusty winds and cold rain making it difficult to walk outside - several dozen volunteers from all across London still managed to arrive at 20 Fenchurch Street to support a cause they deeply believe in! After checking-in, I went up the elevator with my fellow volunteers to the 37th floor of this sleek, modern building. I had heard of Sky Garden before but didn’t know what to expect - but let me tell you, the view up there certainly doesn’t disappoint!


Everyone was impressed by the beautiful tropical scenery on the terrace and the 360-degree view it offers over several London landmarks. However, our admiring of the view had to end as several hundred runners on their way (eek!). Many hands made light work when all volunteers huddled around the finish line to unpack and neatly stack the medals that runners would be receiving and were briefed on what to expect on the day. On you marks, set, go!

My main duties involved helping participants and their loved ones find what they were looking for (such as the very important lifts to go back down!) and after a while, I moved to the finish line to cheer on the runners, and joined in on the choruses of “woohoo!” and “yeah, you did it!” from the crowd.

It was incredible to witness the event and a great day all round. What was most inspiring in my opinion, is that people of all ages (and not necessarily elite athletes) took part in the race -the goal was not to be the best, or to show everyone how great of an athlete they were, but rather to collect funds for the children at GOSH and have a blast while doing so! But don’t just take it from me: volunteer Shankararama, an exchange PhD student from India, said that this event gave them the ”opportunity to mingle with people and have fun”.

700 participants joined the race, with them running up 896 steps (that’s 36 flights of stairs!). The record for the fastest runner was 5 minutes and 21 seconds, which amounts to a whopping 2.8 steps per second! In case you are wondering how the runners’ families and friends made it up there as well to congratulate them, rest assured in the fact that they took the lift to reach the Sky Garden. In the end, £125,000 was fundraised from the event, which will be vital in guaranteeing the appropriate level of care will be given to the young patients of the Hospital.

GOSH is one of the main centres for child heart surgery and research in the world and their affiliated Children’s Charity ensures funds are raised to contribute to their worthy cause.

Written by Alexandre Marion - One-Off Volunteering Ambassador

There are plenty of amazing one-off events where you can not only help others, but get involved in plenty of fun. If you’re interested in volunteering at these events, take a look at our One-Off Volunteering Programme for other time-light opportunities. Keep your eyes peeled for our one-off ambassador logo also, in case you want to go along with a friendly face!