Guests heading to breakfast at the iconic hotel witnessed the unusual sight of 100 runners from the worlds of hospitality, sport and business joining forces with the general public to race through the hotel lobby and up the 56 flights of stairs of the 101 metre tall hotel. The race, that started at 8 a.m., was a fundraiser co-ordinated by Hilton in the Community Foundation to support at risk young Londoners through an apprenticeship programme called Galvin’s Chance.
Amongst the runners were Galvin’s Chance founders Chris Galvin, Chef de Patron at Galvin at Windows, and Galvin at Windows general manager, Fred Sirieix. They were joined by Simon Vincent, Hilton Worldwide President Europe and former British boxing welterweight champion Clinton Mckenzie. This year’s winner was Galvin at Windows Employee Emmeric Hurault, finishing in an electric 18 minutes and 58 seconds.
The Mayfair Park and Tower Race incorporates a 4 km sprint around the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park followed by a gruelling tower run up the 475 stairs of London Hilton on Park Lane to Galvin at Windows. The runners then have the chance to recover and re-hydrate with a champagne breakfast in the restaurant.
Early indications are that more than £20,000 has been raised from the event in sponsorship for Galvin’s Chance. The initiative offers at risk young Londoners, including ex-offenders training, mentoring and a series of apprenticeships in some of London’s finest hotels and restaurants as part of a course to equip and support them into full time employment. The project has been initiated by Chris Galvin and the Galvin at Windows restaurant, the finish point for the race, and is co-ordinated by Hilton in the Community Foundation, Hilton’s charitable arm which has a focus on helping disadvantaged young people.
Speaking at the morning’s event, Chris Galvin said: “Working in restaurants, as I have now done for 33 years, has made me realise just what an inspirational sector this is and what a great opportunity we have to make a difference to young people’s lives. The race follows on from that by helping people to help themselves, to learn and to be inspired. Every step taken on today’s course is a step closer to helping someone who needs that second chance in life.”
Galvin’s Chance, now in its third year, provides an opportunity to young people in London between the ages of 18-24 to turn their lives around. The programme, which has already supported several young Londoners from difficult backgrounds into full time work, is delivered in partnership with The Springboard Charity, which specialises in helping young unemployed and disadvantaged people into work in the hospitality sector.
Chris Grayling MP, Minister for Employment, sent a message of support for the event and the programme. He said: “Apprenticeships are an essential part of tackling youth unemployment, particularly for those from the most challenging backgrounds. I wish Galvin’s Chance every success with its valuable work”.
One of last year’s apprentices, Liam Frederick Waterman, aged 22 years old, spoke at the post run reception in Galvin at Windows. He said: “Prior to Galvin’s Chance I was on probation and doing community service. Galvin’s Chance helped me by giving me a chance to find the confidence to help myself. I am currently studying an NVQ level 2 and working full time as a Commis waiter. I would definitely recommend the programme as it has given me a first class opportunity. Thanks to everyone who ran and fundraised to support this year’s apprentices.”
All participants will also have the opportunity to engage in training at Westminster Kingsway College as part of the programme. The Apprenticeship will take up to 12 months to complete and the college courses should lead to an NVQ Level 2.
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