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Tours of iconic Bristol tower hit £10,000 fundraising milestone

Dave and Jim Skelhorne, Lauren Vincent and Gary Nott outside Wills Memorial Building

Dave and Jim Skelhorne, Lauren Vincent and Gary Nott outside Wills Memorial Building

Press release issued: 7 November 2012

Tours of one of Bristol’s tallest and most iconic buildings have now raised an impressive £10,000 towards caring for sick babies and children in the city. Organisers of the Tower Tours, which show visitors around the Wills Memorial Building at the top of Park Street, presented the lucky donor of the 10,000th pound with a bottle of champagne to celebrate the milestone.

Organisers of the Tower Tours, which show visitors around the Wills Memorial Building at the top of Park Street, presented the lucky donor of the 10,000th pound with a bottle of champagne to celebrate the milestone.

Money raised has gone towards Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity, which has just launched a new £3.5million campaign to provide pioneering new facilities to put the hospital at the forefront of medical care in the UK.

Ad-hoc tours of the imposing Neo Gothic landmark began 12 years ago, with staff and students keen to see what goes on behind the grand facade. It grew to be so popular that tour times were formalised and opened up to the public in return for a donation.

Tour Guide Dave Skelhorne, who coordinates tours with his son Jim and Gary Nott, the senior porter for Wills Memorial Building, said: “We’ve been making donations to the Grand Appeal for over a decade but it’s really taken-off in the past few years since we’ve opened it up to the public.

“To reach £10,000 is beyond what we ever expected. It’s a wonderful achievement thanks to all our visitors’ kind donations and we hope to raise even more money for this brilliant charity in the future.”

More than 10,000 people have now enjoyed the Tower Tours, including local school children, foreign visitors, dignitaries visiting the city and prospective students.

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 have 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.”

Officially opened in 1925, the Wills Memorial Building houses the University’s School of Law and the Department 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.

There’s also a 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.

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.

  • 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, children under eight are not permitted on the tours.
  • Booking is advisable in advance by emailing Dave Skelhorne on dave.skelhorne@bristol.ac.uk

Further information

Wallace and 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.

Please use the following hashtag if tweeting about this press release: #UoBtowertours