Alderwood care worker abseils 418ft tower to raise money for hospice

Laura Birch, lifestyle coordinator at Alderwood, has completed an extreme abseil at the National Lift Tower in Northampton to raise money for St Helena Hospice in Colchester

Laura Birch, lifestyle coordinator at Alderwood Care Home, has completed an extreme abseil at the National Lift Tower in Northampton to raise money for St Helena Hospice in Colchester.

Combined with the care home’s other fundraising efforts, including quiz nights and raffles, £2,590 has been donated to the hospice to support its end-of-life efforts.

Rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, Alderwood Care Home is located on Essex Hall Road and provides residential, nursing, dementia, and specialist end of life care.

Laura has worked at the care home since 2016 and helps to organise a variety of engaging activities for her residents, to create fun and interesting opportunities for them.

She said: “Supporting our local community is something everyone is really committed to at Alderwood and since 2019, St Helena Hospice has been our chosen charity. The team there provide vital care and support to people in and around Colchester and we have been more determined than ever this year to plan something big to help raise even more money for them.

“I chose to do an abseil as it’s something I did as a child, on a far smaller scale, and recall enjoying. Over the years I’ve become a little afraid of heights, so I wanted to challenge myself to face my fears.”

When the other person who had booked on the abseil with Laura changed their mind, Laura’s mum, 69-year-old former nurse Pamela Adams, stepped in by taking on the challenge of the world’s largest abseil tower to support her daughter.

“Mum said that at her age she is willing to try anything and was thrilled to take on a new experience,” added Laura.

“The initial climb over the edge and looking down at the drop was pretty scary. The actual descent was physically harder than I imagined, especially as the wind was blowing us away from the tower.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say I really enjoyed it, but I was proud of myself for doing it and overwhelmed by the support and donations from colleagues, residents, and residents’ friends and families”

St Helena Hospice is a Colchester based charity which provides specialist palliative and end of life care to local people facing incurable illness in north east Essex, supporting them, their families, friends, and carers.

Kayleigh Jowers, senior events fundraiser at St Helena, was invited to Alderwood to accept the donation on behalf of the Hospice. She said: “As a charity we rely heavily on the help and generosity of our fundraisers, without them we wouldn’t be here.

“The team at Alderwood, and especially Laura, are superstars! With their support, more local people can live and die well with compassion, dignity, and choice.”

Nikki Leaney, home manager at Alderwood, added: “We believe that being part of someone’s life, including the end of their life, is a privilege. Our team are specially trained in ensuring all of our residents’ lives are meaningful, fulfilling and personalised to them – right to the end of their life.

“We are all very proud of Laura and think it’s fantastic that her mum decided to take on the challenge too, it takes a lot of guts to abseil a 400ft tower!”

The team at Alderwood Care Home were awarded a Gold Medal Award for its Palliative End of Life Care as well as ‘Highly Commended’ for its palliative and end of life care at the Great British Care Awards in 2023.

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