THEY’VE been training, raising sponsorship funds, and getting increasingly more nervous for months, and today the day the intrepid Shard abseilers have been waiting for (or dreading) has finally arrived.
From first light this morning – weather permitting – a diverse selection of adventurers, City daredevils, politician’s wives and even a member of the Royal family will begin the slow and steady descent down the 310m building, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for The Outward Bound Trust and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.
The abseilers, who’ve been dubbed The Descendants, will set off from the 87th floor of Europe’s tallest building and make their way all the way to the 20th floor.
The distance is so great that a pit stop to change ropes is even required along the way, as the full length required would be too much for participants to carry.
Among the crazy few who’ve volunteered for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity are the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, deputy chairman of The Outward Bound Trust (and wife of William) Ffion Hague, Shearman & Sterling London managing partner Nick Buckworth, PwC board member Richard Oldfield, and Ted Hood (pictured), chief executive of Exchange Traded Funds provider Source.
“It is not just because the Shard is now there,” explained Hood. “I would not normally consider wanting to jump off a 1000ft building attached to a rope, but I commute into London Bridge from Kent every day and have seen it rise majestically out of the ground, plus you can’t miss seeing it from our offices near the Bank of England.
Today’s challenge is planned as a one-off, as once tenants move into the building it will no longer be able to be used for abseiling – even today the participants will be wearing special soled shoes to avoid marking the windows.
So make sure to look up and cheer them on during your morning and evening commutes, as the descents will be taking place throughout the day.