Climbers seige the Houses of Parliament- well not quite!

4th Nov 2011

H of P

You don’t get many unique opportunities in life but when they come your way, grab them with both hands- that’s what my Mum always used to say and she’s right. I was lucky enough to experience one of those on Wednesday. I was invited along with about 20 other British Team members and BMC officials to the Houses of Parliament and we had a fantastic time. The aim was to meet the Minister for Sports and The Olympics, Hugh Robertson, and raise awareness of climbing and it’s benefits to a wide range of people. Also, the fact that climbing is on a shortlist of sports to become an Olympic Sport in 2020, spreading the word about climbing can only help our case.

Our hosts were John Mann MP (Labour) and David Rutley MP (Tory) and very nice chaps they were too. They are both climbers/walkers and co-chair the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mountaineering; of which many of their members turned up at the reception too.

Before the reception, John and David gave us a tour of the Houses of Parliament. It was fascinating and I felt like a true tourist, ooing and arring at the incredible surroundings and architecture. We were lucky enough to be shown the Chapel of St. Mary’s Under croft in the depths of the building that was finished by Henry VIII and was incredibly ornate and well preserved- how the other half lived! The immense Westminster Hall is awesome with it’s 1000 year old hammerbeam roof, apparently the oldest in the world.

Anyway, after swanning about on Westminster’s infamous terrace over the Thames, we trooped back into the ancient corridors to our reception room.

After speeches from Dave Turnbull (CEO BMC) and Audrey Seguy (VP BMC) on the oodles of great things that climbing can offer people and how well the Team is doing Internationally, the Sports Minister gave an amiable reply, then we all drank, ate and chatted. The atmosphere was good and to top it off Dame Kelly Holmes attended and wowed everyone with her bulging biceps (well me anyway!!). She seemed very nice and down to earth and it’s great having her on our side as an advocate of climbing to the masses.

I quizzed John Mann on the whole politics of our 2020 Olympic shortlist and how it might all work and he gamely educated me on all things political. It was interesting and eye opening to an ignoramus like me.

So a positive evening was had by all and hopefully climbing has made an impression on the Sports Minister and we will see what it brings for the future.

Thanks to all who organised the event.