Celebrities Stand Up To Give Youth A Chance At Hilton London On Park Lane

This information originated in UK English.

June 18, 2009

LONDON -  Walkers in Hyde Park and guests at London Hilton on Park Lane were surprised to see a mix of celebrities, chefs and athletes running past them in a unique challenge yesterday to raise funds for a new charity initiative.

Celebrities including former England footballer Graeme Le Saux, chef Michel Roux junior and several of Sky One's Gladiators successfully made it around the Mayfair Park and Tower Race course - a 4.5 km sprint around the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park followed by a gruelling tower run up 28 floors to the top of the London Hilton on Park Lane. The runners were started off by former 400m athlete John Regis, and medals were handed out in Galvin at Windows restaurant at the top of the hotel by Ken Livingstone.

The goal of the event was to raise £30,000 in sponsorship for a new charity apprenticeship programme called Galvin's Chance which will offer a series of apprenticeships in some of London's finest hotels for disadvantaged young people. The project has been initiated by Hilton in the Community Foundation - Hilton's charitable arm which has a focus on helping disadvantaged young people - and the Galvin at Windows restaurant, the finish point for the race.

Speaking at the event, Graeme Le Saux said:

"If anyone was wondering I can confirm that tower racing is not an easy sport to take part in! Nonetheless this race has been a fantastic means of kick starting a very important charity initiative. Gavin's Chance will give a group of young people an amazing opportunity to develop their talents and to change their lives for the better. It is a real pleasure to be involved in the project and I'm looking forward to seeing its goals realised."

Galvin's Chance will provide an opportunity to disadvantaged young people in London between the ages of 18-24, including those at risk of gun and knife crime on some of Britain's most violent housing estates .The pilot programme will be delivered in partnership with Springboard Charity Trust, which specialises in helping young unemployed and disadvantaged people improve their prospects - through developing skills and finding sustainable jobs in the hospitality, leisure travel and tourism industries. The Mayfair Times is also co-organising the race and is the official media partner for Galvin's Chance. The programme will include industry leading training towards a ‘front of house' hotel career - one which requires dedication, ambition and enthusiasm.

By working with other key partners such as the Solve This Ongoing Problem (STOP) campaign and The Emmanuel Youth Project, Galvin's Chance will engage with young people through a youth worker referral process. Once the initial group of 20 young people has been found they will start an introductory training programme in August run by Springboard and tailored to equip them with all the skills they need to succeed. They will then have the opportunity to be placed as apprentices at a series of top-end establishments around London in September, including Galvin at Windows at the London Hilton on Park Lane.

All participants will also 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.

Simon Sheehan, Director Hilton in the Community Foundation said: "The race will be fun, but the intent is serious. Galvin's Chance is there to help real people, who might have not had every opportunity, to change their lives. We hope it will grow over the years and make a real difference."

The male race was won by amateur triathlete Peter Slijkhuis in 19 minutes and 32 seconds, while former 800m Olympian Jo Fenn (nee Mersh) came first out of the female runners. She said:

"This race is so unique and special- it really reflects London, and running for Galvin's chance has given me the chance to raise money for a great, great cause. It's helping people help themselves to learn and be inspired. Every step taken is a step closer to helping someone who needs that second chance in life.

Other famous faces to take part in the race included athlete Iwan Thomas and youth campaigner Alex Rose. More information can be found at http://mayfairparkandtowerrace.com.



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