Honouring Helen and braving the heights of the Spinnaker Tower - FitzRoy

Honouring Helen and braving the heights of the Spinnaker Tower

Published: July 5, 2024

On June 29 2024, a group of our dedicated staff took on the 100m descent down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. The event was not just about the adrenaline rush, but about honouring Helen, a much loved resident at Whitegates, our care home in Hampshire.

Helen lived at Whitegates for 10 years. When Helen became ill and spent some time in hospital she could see the Spinnaker Tower from her hospital window. She often told us she wanted to go up there one day. Sadly, Helen passed away last October before she could fulfill this dream. When FitzRoy’s annual fundraising event, the Spinnaker Tower abseil, was announced, a group of her support staff decided to honour her memory by taking on the challenge themselves.

Service manager Mandy described Helen as vibrant and strong-willed saying: “Helen was full of life and always eager to try new things. She had a wonderful sense of humour and could always find the funny side of life, even at a staff member’s expense.”

In a tribute to Helen’s love of unicorns and all things colourful, the brave abseilers Sam, Sheila, Ashleigh, and Debbie wore bright, colourful leggings during the abseil. Mandy said, “They were excited but understandably nervous leading up to the abseil. Once they completed it, they were ecstatic. Myself, another staff member, and Helen’s mum and stepdad were all there, cheering them on the entire time.”

Support Workers Sam and Sheila said, “When you’re up there, you start to wonder if you can do it, but we kept reminding ourselves we were doing it for Helen. That thought gave us the courage we needed.”

Support Worker Ashleigh continued, “Helen was a real inspiration. She was so brave dealing with the health challenges she had, especially in the last few months of her life, she always had a smile on her face, so on the day she gave me the strength to complete the abseil with a smile on my face.”

Support Worker Debbie added, “If Helen could see us, she would be laughing her head off. She would have loved our nervousness, giggling so much she’d get the hiccups and tears streaming down her face.”

At the care home, a part of the garden has been sectioned off to create a memorial garden for Helen. The funds raised from the abseil will go towards making this garden a special place for staff and residents to remember her.

Mandy expressed her admiration, saying, “Everyone at the service is incredibly proud of Sam, Sheila, Ashleigh, and Debbie. They were incredible. They’re our heroes.”

The success of the abseil not only honoured Helen’s memory but also showcased the incredible dedication and spirit of our staff. The team raised £1,100 which will help create a beautiful memorial garden as a lasting tribute to Helen and a place for reflection and remembrance for everyone at the service.

A huge thank you to Sam, Sheila, Ashleigh, and Debbie, as well as our other intrepid abseilers including FitzRoy teams from Lane End Drive, Area Manager Charlie, and local school TPS. It was an incredible day, raising over £5,000 for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs.