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Tower tours’ tally tops £7,500 for local charity

Dave and Jim Skelhorne, Lauren Vincent and Gary Nott

Dave and Jim Skelhorne, Lauren Vincent and Gary Nott

Press release issued: 1 February 2012

Tours of one of Bristol’s tallest and most iconic buildings have raised an impressive £7,500 for a city charity. Keen visitors and locals alike have been making donations in return for guided tours of Wills Memorial Building, the symbolic centrepiece of Bristol University, for the past 12 years.

Keen visitors and locals alike have been making donations in return for guided tours of Wills Memorial Building, the symbolic centrepiece of Bristol University, for the past 12 years.

Money raised has gone towards Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity, who are currently supporting the Special Care Baby Unit with a £1million appeal to expand the intensive care cots on the unit and to provide family accommodation, for parents from all over the South West.

Tours of the imposing Neo Gothic landmark have become so popular that bookings are now taken in advance for the unique opportunity to climb to the top of the tower and see the famous Great George bell – the sixth largest in England, weighing in at 9.5 tonnes - being rung.

Officially opened in 1925, the Wills Memorial Building houses the University’s School of Law and the School of Earth Sciences, in addition to hosting graduation ceremonies twice a year and a whole host of public events.

The tours allow the public to see behind the grand facade and experience the splendour of the Great Hall, Council Chamber and ornate libraries.

The view from the top of Wills Tower, some 68 metres above Park Street, is unparalleled and tour guides give a unique insight into the history of the building, which was opened by King George V and Queen Mary in 1925 before being badly damaged during the Blitz in 1940.

Tour Guide Dave Skelhorne, who coordinates tours with his son Jim and Gary Nott, the senior porter for Wills Memorial Building, said: “The tours began as one-off visits for members of different departments within the University.  Then one or two students would ask if they could climb up the tower to see Great George and the popularity has subsequently soared, mostly internally and with local schools and foreign visitors who make special requests.

“We must have had more than 10,000 visitors over the years. The tours have proved so popular, especially during Doors Open Day, that we’ve recently opened it up to the public and formalised visiting times and donation fees to help raise even more money for this brilliant charity.”

Lauren Vincent, Fundraising Manager at the Grand Appeal, said: “We are so grateful to Dave and Gary for the tireless hard work and dedication they've put into raising such an amazing amount for the Grand Appeal. Their hard work and the generous donations from the public help us to ensure that sick children and babies in Bristol continue to receive the best care possible at Bristol Children’s Hospital.”

  • Tours of the Wills Memorial Building take place on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month. On Saturdays, they are held every half an hour between 10.30am and 12noon. They are between 12.30pm and 2pm on Wednesdays.
  • Tours cost £4 per person, with a £3 concessionary rate for students over 11-years-old, senior citizens and members of the University. Children aged between eight and 11 are free. Unfortunately, due to health and safety restrictions, children under eight are not permitted on the tours.
  • Booking is advisable in advance by emailing Dave Skelhorne on


Further information

Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal fundraises to support sick children and babies at Bristol Children’s Hospital and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Founded in 1995, the Appeal has raised over £18million towards the first purpose built children’s hospital in the UK and continues to support the hospital by funding pioneering medical care and equipment, arts, music and play programmes and accommodation for the sickest children and their families.

Bristol Children’s Hospital is one of the UK’s leading Children’s Hospitals and treats young patients from across the South West and South Wales regions with life-threatening illnesses and serves as the paediatric intensive care centre for the whole region. The hospital is the regions specialist centre for a range of services including cardiac and renal treatment, complex surgeries and Bone Marrow Transplants, treating over 100,000 patients every year.

Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal needs your help to ensure that we can continue to support sick children from the South West and beyond. Find out how you can help by visiting

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