Finished contenders of the Chiltern Challenge
People holding up their medals from the Chiltern Challenge inside large Westminster venue
Finishers of the Chiltern Challenge after the event
Team shot in allotment garden outside of the city

Staff at Central Hall Westminster have been taking part in a summer of charity including challenges for Macmillan Cancer Support and a day of gardening at Glengall Wharf Gardens, a scheme which aims to transform lives in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities.

On Friday 2nd August, staff from the venue’s business centre spent the day at Peckham-based community gardens and organic-food growing project as part of their annual charity day. The 15 staff members swapped business dress for gardening clothes to help get the community garden run by green charity, Groundwork, into shape. Tasks involved removing invasive grasses and weeds that threatened fruit bushes, clearing paths, making tables, harvesting crops, watering and creating a herb garden. The charity aims to create a future for disadvantaged communities by providing more green spaces, helping them to lead more active lives and overcome significant challenges such as poverty, isolation, low skills and poor health.

Earlier this summer, Sales and Event Director, Sarah Franczak, joined ex colleagues from BMA House for the Macmillan Mighty Hike, 48 kilometres of gruelling terrain along the Thames Path. Sarah and the team of six others raised a total of almost £3,500 for the Macmillan charity.

Meanwhile, The Reverend Tim Swindell, Central Hall Westminster’s Executive Chair, took on the Chiltern Challenge, also for Macmillan. Tim, along with his son Sam, walked 100 kilometres in 24 hours and raised over £3,000 in the process. Despite the pair’s rigorous training they both admitted finding the walk challenging, particularly during the night when they followed the route via a trail of glow sticks. “Even by the halfway point, still with more than 30 miles to walk we weren’t sure we would finish, but we were buoyed by a good hot meal provided by the organisers, and a massage to relieve some of the knots in my leg muscles. However, as the finishing line approached we had a fresh injection of energy to carry us over and then enjoy the elation of collecting our medals, and a good hearty breakfast,” explained Tim.

Sarah, Tim and Sam began training for their walks in March including walking to work – a combined total of over 85 miles, with some moral support from Managing Director Paul Southern who himself cycled 65 miles from his home to the Westminster venue. To support their combined training efforts, staff at Central Hall laid on some welcome refreshments on their arrival.

Paul Southern, Managing Director of Central Hall Westminster, commented: “We had an amazing time at Glengall Wharf Gardens, helping to improve a green space for everyone to enjoy. This really resonates with us as an events venue with sustainability at its heart, being first in the country to provide a carbon calculator for events and having achieved the Green Tourism Gold Award two years in a row. We were exhausted by the end of the day but felt a great sense of achievement.”

“In a summer of charity, we are very proud of Sarah, Tim and his son Sam’s efforts to raise money for such a worthy cause as Macmillan and of our business centre staff for working so hard on our day at the community garden. As an events venue which thinks of other people first, we are very happy to see our staff proactively seeking out ways to help charitable causes”, he added.