A Message For All 2014 Gherkineers

The NSPCC has teamed up with Clever Voice so that participants of this year's Gherkin Challenge can here motivational messages ahead of their walk/run up the Gherkin. CEO Peter Wanless did the first once when we opened registration for the event and now, in the absence of Lewis Hamilton, I have done the second. You can listen to it here - even if you're not a Gherkineer this year maybe it will inspire you for 2015! 

The Gherkin Challenge - High Ambitions...


Signs ups are doing well, the Steering Committee have set an aim for 600 sign ups which is an increase on previous year's attendance based on the enthusiasm and expertise behind this year's event.  (I've worked out the building's capacity for the event and am encouraging them to go for 900+, at the moment everyone is putting that down to my natural exuberance - let's see what happens.... ) 

14th March - 78 people signed up

28th March - 120 people signed up

11th April - 228 people signed up

 25th April - 287 people signed up 

Definitely watch what happens...

Sign up yourself at 


The 2014 Gherkin Challenge - Registration is Open

Registration for the 2014 Gherkin Challenge for the NSPCC is open and we already have 120 participants registered. I am about to mail all of my contacts (nearest and dearest through to everyone I have ever met) to help get this year's event to be simply the best ever.

It's happening on Sunday 7th September and you can either run or walk up the stairs to the top of the Gherkin. You can be as energetic or as relaxed as you like, some people like to race up and others like to take their time and rest at each floor. (I've done it twice before and walked up both times). This year when you reach the 40th floor you can join the NSPCC Celebration Party (drinks, snacks, entertainment) and you can enjoy the Gherkin's amazing 360˚ views across London. It will be a great day, part of the 10th anniversary celebrations of an iconic building and every single step up you take will make such a big difference to vulnerable children!

Registration is now open. We are asking for a registration fee of £20 for individuals or £70 for a team of four, with a Buy-One-Get-One-Free offer available until April 17th (Simply enter the promotional code BOGOF14 when selecting tickets).  All we ask is that each participant raises a minimum of £200.  Children over 8 years of age and accompanied by an adult can take part for just £10. There is also the option of coming up to the top via the lift. A lift pass is £60 or £100 for 2, and children under 14 come with you free of charge and all can join the party! 

Most important of all is that reaching your target of £200 will mean you raise £5 for each of the Gherkin’s 40 floors and fund 50 children’s calls to ChildLine being answered. I know that fact will keep me walking up to the top (and trying to raise more to have more calls answered!) More good news is that every participant will receive an exclusive edition of ‘360° at the Gherkin’ (by yours truly) – we are adding information about the vital NSPCC services and children in London that your fundraising will help support into a special ‘10th Anniversary of the Gherkin’ edition of the book. I have also organised two signed prints of the Gherkin Guide signed by Norman Foster, and these will be presented at the Gherkin* to the higher fund raising individual and team. (*In a special presentation in October 2014).

For more information and to register your interest in this event please visit the NSPCC Gherkin Challenge website or contact  Adam Lewis at the NSPCC on 020 7825 1389 or come back to me and I will answer any questions you have! tee@teedobinson.com

I do hope I see you on the day, whether it’s just you or you and a team – it will be fantastic! Every step we take up will make such a difference to vulnerable children! Tee xxx

Tee Dobinson

London Business Board for the NSPCC 

2013 Gherkin Challenge participants

2013 Gherkin Challenge participants

Me in 2012 - having a rest at floor 27 (it really is ok to take it steadily!) 

Me in 2012 - having a rest at floor 27 (it really is ok to take it steadily!) 

Meeting Norman Foster - March 12th 2014

"So, have you met Norman Foster?" is a question I have been asked many times over my years at the Gherkin. "I've met everyone else" I would say, or I'd tell people how he gave his personal approval for the design of 'The Gherkin Guide' (from Hong Kong) and permission for us to include his photo (from Milan) - but really, it all still boiled down to no, I hadn't met him. Until today.

It came about as I had asked Foster + Partners if Lord Foster would consider signing two prints of 'The Gherkin Guide' as prizes for the NSPCC 2014 Gherkin Challenge's top fundraisers. 'We will see if Lord Foster is willing' they reply. Then later, as it appears he is, they ask me to send the prints in. I ask to be present when he signs but they tell me, while that is a lovely idea, it is sadly not possible. I tell myself I don't mind, the prints for the charity are the main thing. (I do mind of course). 

Then everything changes. Foster + Partners send an invite asking me if I would like to meet Lord Foster while he signs the prints. That will be a yes. So now I am at the Hester Road offices, I have been before and looked out for him but I found out later he wasn't even in the country that day. I am sitting with the prints at a table overlooking the river and I can see Lord Foster in a meeting at a large oval table to my right. Last night was the RIBA interview of 'The Brits Who Made the Modern World' - Foster, Rogers, Farrell, Hopkins and Grimshaw and I hear people nearby talking about it. I saw the enthralling BBC programmes and will catch the recording of the sold out interview show later. The speakers are not sure the interviewer made the most of her exalted guests, I'll have to see what I think this evening. 

Foster walks over, it's me next. He's utterly charming, apologises for keeping me waiting and is interested in the finished copy of The Gherkin Guide which he has never seen - 'Can we get more of these?' he asks - I tell him Foster + Partners already has some, 'Good' he replies. (I am outwardly calm of course, but inwardly cheering.) 

We chat some more, I tell him my friends live in one of the two Camden houses he designed in the 60s and he likes that, then we talk a little about the Gherkin and it's continual appeal and the stair climb for NSPCC, then the prints are signed (two for the fundraisers and one for me - yes, he says he happy to sign an extra one for me) then, taking his copy of The Gherkin Guide with him,  he is gone. I roll up the prints, thank everyone and leave. I am going straight to Berwick Street to put them in the hands of Chris at Soho Frames, I arrive safely and hand them over - frames, mounts and non-reflective glass already been decided upon.

"So, have you met Norman Foster?" they ask and "Yes" I reply. "I have."

                                                           Norman Foster ©Nigel Young, Foster + Partners

                                                           Norman Foster ©Nigel Young, Foster + Partners

Back at the Gherkin with the Norman Foster signed print

Back at the Gherkin with the Norman Foster signed print

‘360˚ at the Gherkin’ books for NSPCC - March 3rd 2014

The NSPCC announced that a sponsor has been confirmed for the special  edition of my ‘360˚ at the Gherkin’ books for the 2014 Gherkin Challenge and that each participant who reaches their target fundraising of £200 will receive a copy. That's such great news - I hope people like the idea and it makes them want to register for the event. I love seeing people use the book at the top of the building and know people love taking it home and now it will be memory of both their effort and of the building. 

The cover of the first edition of '360˚ at the Gherkin' - all sold out now.

The cover of the first edition of '360˚ at the Gherkin' - all sold out now.

A special guest enjoys reading her copy of  '360˚ at the Gherkin'

A special guest enjoys reading her copy of  '360˚ at the Gherkin'

Gherkin Challenge Steering Committee - February 13th 2014

Tonight Adam Lewis from the NSPCC’s Event Team presents the time line leading up to September 7th and we discuss how the committee can help enroll participants into the event. Lots is discussed, including a special event edition of my ‘360˚ at the Gherkin’ - as we (baizdon.com) are planning a second edition following the first one selling out I had offered to provide copies for everyone who reaches the top. Everyone liked the idea, and tonight we examine ways of sponsoring the books and at how we are going to let people know – if they just get it in their goody bags when they reach the top then the book is not helping encourage enrolment or incentivising fundraising so they need to know in advance. Various options are discussed.  We also look at overalls event budgets (Steering Committee Chair Francesca Valli is particularly exacting in her demand for minute details) – I am learning such a lot about fund raising!


Each member of the London Business Board promises to send details out of the event to their networks once registration opens. It would just be fantastic if the building was bursting to the seams of people reaching the top, enjoying the views knowing every step they’ve taken on the way up has helped children – I reaffirm (to myself and out loud) my personal commitment to helping make the event a massive success for all concerned – both those raising the funds and those benefitting. The rest of the committee does the same. What a team!! We are going to make this happen!

Johnny and Ben after completing the 2012 fundraiser.

Johnny and Ben after completing the 2012 fundraiser.

Joining the London Business Board for the NSPCC - January 8th 2014

Today Neil Mirchandani, the Chair of the London Business Board for the NSPCC, welcomes me as a board member. I am honoured to be joining such a prestigious group of people who have done such amazing fund raising work in the City of London for the NSPCC over a period of many years.

I hope that my knowledge of the Gherkin and links with the building and it's tenants can help this year's Gherkin Challenge for the NSPCC be a huge success for the charity and for the day's participants.

Paul Farthing, NSPCC’s Director of Fundraising - January 6th 2014

Met Paul Farthing today at the NSPCC’s Shoreditch offices along with Adam Lewis from the Events team to discuss how we can use my knowledge of all the numbers at the Gherkin. Paul’s idea is to see how we can how can we relate the number of floors, steps, windows, etc with the number of children that will be helped by the NSPCC thanks to Gherkin Challenge participants. We came up with some good ideas, including that every step up the building helps children (Mark Luboff of the London Business Board had already worked out that participants who raise £200 will be enabling two children’s calls for help be answered by ChildLine for every floor they reach - 50 calls in all). We talk about how many schools can be seen in the views from the top of the building and Paul suggests we might add this information to enlarged images from my ‘360˚ at the Gherkin’ book, so they could identify the London landmarks in the view for everyone who reaches the top and also see where the NSPCC uses their money across the capital. Could be great!

The next evening Paul joins the London Business Board along with members of the NSPCC Event Team to discuss the Gherkin Challenge. Everything is moving forward and registration will open on March 3rd. 

Sarah McQueen is a Hero - December 7th 2014

Sarah McQueen is Marketing Manager for Searcys the Gherkin and (along with GM Danny Kaljee) is in charge of the Top of the Building’s event calendar.  So to hold The Gherkin Challenge the NSPCC need both the 30 St Mary Axe Management’s support for the stair climb itself and for Searcys to donate the top of the building. The 30SMA team have already generously said yes and Searcys had offered dates in March, April and July but they were too soon, too near Easter and too-in-the-middle-of-the-Summer. September would be ideal but this is the start of the busy period for Searcys The Gherkin where their space is booked solidly until the end of December – and they already give two days for the Open House London weekend at the end of the month. What to do? I decide to plead! Sarah, Danny and I are all parents* and it only took a few minutes thinking about the work of the NSPCC for Sarah to agree to donate the top of the building space for September 7th. This is fantastic!! Sarah, thank you, thank you  – you are a hero!


*Not that you have to be parents to appreciate the vital work of the NSPCC!

The Gherkin Challenge for the NSPCC 2014 will be on September 7th 2014. Should it be held again in future years the aim is to hold it in the spring. 

Sarah McQueen

Addressing the London Business Board for the NSPCC - November 27th 2013

Francesca Valli, a Patron of the NSPCC and member of their London Business Board and also co-founder of ‘The Gherkin Challenge’ has asked me to address the Board and members of the NSPCC’s event team this evening about the 2013 event.


2013 was the 4th year fundraisers climbed the Gherkin steps for the NSPCC and it was less attended that in previous years and I felt I knew the reason why, having been at the bottom of the building motivating participants throughout the two-day event. The beautiful event marketing (I still have it on the wall in my office) said that runners were needed and showed the Gherkin peeking behind Mount Everest in pinky blue colours reminiscent of Evian’s mountain range with the slogan ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’.  Well in my view it’s not. Well it is, but it isn’t. Let me explain. It certainly is a big effort to get to the top and it’s a real achievement for the people that do it, those that run and those that walk (so it’s not just runners that are needed) but you don’t quite go through the five climate zones of Everest to get to the top of the building! Nor do you take 7 days. My 14 year old son ran up in 11 minutes and his friend in 8, I have walked up twice (26 minutes one year and 18 the next). So as long as you’re reasonably fit it’s doable. But I found in talking to people on the day that they all had friends or colleagues who felt the mountainous challenge was beyond them.


The meeting was brilliant, the London Business Board for the NSPCC (which has helped raise over a million pounds for the charity) is completely behind the 2014 Gherkin Challenge and together with the NSPCC Events Team decided to invite both runners and walkers and to focus on the fact that participants help children every single step they make up the building. A back-to-basics focus on the brilliant work of the NSPCC. I was invited to join the Steering Committee for the 2014 event. I accepted.