As we look back on Saturday’s urban adventure with Up at The O2, we wanted to reflect on the success of the day, and how wonderful it was to meet with various organisations, bloggers, mums and charities who are making the world a better place for every type of mother!
This event aimed to celebrate motherhood in all its forms, as well as the charities whose goal is to make parenting and motherhood easier. We were thrilled with the turn-out, and the opportunity to meet such an inspiring group of hard-working mums and women who dedicate their time to great causes.
On the grey and drizzly morning of 14th March, Ayla, Rina, Charlotte and I made our way to London for the event. As the clouds hung over the London skyline and the rain persistently pattered down, I found myself worrying about the afternoon ahead. With the unpredictable English weather, you never know what will happen. But it was precisely because of that unpredictable weather that by the time our party convened outside the Up At The O2 ticket office, the sunshine was doing its best to break through the clouds, covering everything in an unsuspected glow.
Before we began our climb, we milled around and got to know our group a little better - and what an amazing group they were! We were honoured to have bloggers Kate and Sharon from Lesbemums on the climb with us. Together, they run a blog chronicling their journey as same-sex parents, from trying to conceive, to parenting a toddler. Their work provides representation for couples in a similar situation, and advice on how everyone can be better allies to the LGBTQ+ community.
Also joining us on the climb was blogger Holly from hollybeingmum who writes about her experiences mothering two small boys, as well as meal-planning tips and recipes. It was lovely to meet these bloggers in person, and to experience first-hand the effect their important and far-reaching work has.
A variety of incredible charities were represented at the event. Little Village are a London-based organisation dedicated to eradicating material poverty in the nation’s capital by providing children with toys, books, clothes and equipment. They sent two participants to take part in our special Mother’s Day climb.
Mummy’s Star are a charity supporting mothers who are diagnosed with cancer through pregnancy and childbirth. We were fortunate enough to meet with three amazing women who have benefited from the services of this charity. Among them was Paula, who successfully fundraised an incredible £1,400 for her participation in the event. Congratulations, Paula! Paving the way and providing inspiration for mothers in a similar position, Paula’s incredible contribution will go towards supporting expectant mothers suffering with cancer, to whom Mummy’s Star’s services are absolutely invaluable.
Last but certainly not least, we were joined by three women from Mum’s Aid. Mum’s Aid provide free, specialist counselling in order to assist mothers through mental health issues. Representing Mum’s Aid was Ali Graves, a licensed psychotherapist who works for the charity, and is herself a mother, along with two women who benefit from their services.
As we filled in our health and safety forms, excitement (and, okay, a little bit of trepidation) bubbled amongst the group. We all went through to the briefing room, where we met our instructor Sarah. Her infectious, happy energy put any nerves I had about the climb at ease, and I knew we were about to have a real adventure. After watching a short instructional video about what to expect from the climb, we all filtered through to the changing room to get kitted up in our climbing gear. The room was filled with the uplifting sound of the participants chatting and laughing as we clambered into suits, clipped on harnesses and slid into special climbing shoes. Rina and I were taking part in the climb while Ayla and Charlotte would be waiting to greet us on the other side, so we got dressed into our suits and shoes to join the others.
There’s a series of steps you have to walk up in order to reach the first platform of the O2 building, and as we all thundered up them in our special suits and harnesses, I took the opportunity to chat to the women in the queue behind me. The results of the survey were a little bit of nerves and a little bit of excitement. Part of the appeal of climbing the O2 is the sense of accomplishment when you come back down the other side, and this was what awaited us as we approached the first platform. Here, we took the all-important photo opportunity to pose for a group picture with the first set of steps stretching out behind us, the (now sunny) London sky our backdrop.
It was now time to begin our ascent! Sarah demonstrated how to use the climbing rig attached to our harnesses by clipping it onto the wire that ran across the top of the building. She asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to go first, so I decided to channel Katniss Everdeen and volunteer as tribute. I started climbing, the others heading up behind me. Once we were all stood nicely in a line, the photographer took a photo of us at the start of our adventure! With the cool winds blowing in our faces (I really should have tied my hair up) and the city sprawling out in front of us, the feeling was unbeatable. As you ascend the O2 you can truly see for miles, with the ability to look out at the variety of buildings that together make up the iconic London skyline.
Once we reached the summit, Sarah unhooked our harnesses from the wire so we were free to roam around the platform, take in the view and get some amazing photographs. It was a great opportunity for like-minded people to socialise with each other, with the whole of London as their backdrop. We couldn't resist taking another group photo.
Once everyone had all the pictures they could possibly want, we began our descent down the other side of the building. This is the hardest part, and that’s because it’s the steepest part of the climb. Looking down at it, the walkway seems to suddenly drop off into a stomach-churning nothingness, but as you approach it you can see it’s just a slightly steeper part of the journey. (Is there a motherhood metaphor in there somewhere?) Our harnesses once again tethered to the wire, we climbed down the final part of the walkway, everyone chatting amongst themselves as the summit disappeared behind us.
As we reached the bottom, we could see Charlotte and Ayla waiting for us! This bit, second to the climb itself of course, was the best part of our day: the part where we gave out our special Mother’s Day Climb gift bags. Inside our custom-made tote bags, we had gifts kindly donated by Paperchase, Lee Stafford, Bird & Blend, Wheesht and Up At The o2 – altogether, these contributions amounted to a beautiful notebook and pen set, hair treatments and hairbrushes, tea bags, clay face masks, and an Up At The O2 bottle, poster and fridge magnet. It made quite the haul, so huge thanks go out to these fantastic companies for their generosity. These gifts seemed to go down a treat amongst the participants, who left the climb happy with their new swag.
As we said goodbye to all our guests, a real sense of achievement and purpose washed over the group. It was such a great feeling to have brought together mums and women from across the country with the single goal of giving them a fun day out. When it comes to Mother’s Day, a lot of peoples’ minds go to flowers, chocolates and spa days – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! (We love a spa day as much as the next experience gift company) But shouldn’t mothers be primarily celebrated for their strength and hard work? After all, how better to demonstrate strength than climbing a London landmark?
Ali Graves, the psychotherapist from Mum’s Aid, had this to say about her climb:
We also heard from Naomi, one of the participants from Little Village, who said:
Naomi's mother, Linda, said the following:
Karlee from Mummy's Star had this to say about her experience:
Karlee co-hosts a podcast, Mommy Had A Little Cancer, with her long-time friend Angie. They discuss their experiences healing cancer whilst raising children.
Paula from Mummy's Star said the following:
From all of us here at Experience Days, we'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who attended this unusual - but successful! - event. The charities and bloggers who joined us on this climb are helping to make motherhood feel like less of a steep climb for parents across the country, so there's no better way to celebrate them. Thanks also to Up At The O2 for helping us organise our event, and to our generous sponsors for the gifts.