Shard owners shatter abseiling ambition of Hague Snr
Adam Sherwin is Media Correspondent at The Independent and an award-winning writer who specialises in covering the entertainment, broadcasting, music and popular culture industries. Previously Media writer and diarist at The Times, he was a co-founder of the Beehive City media and entertainment website. As regular contributor to BBC London 94.9 Radio station, he was named Music Business writer of the year at the awards of influential music industry site Record of the Day in 2006.
Thursday 24 May 2012
It's a diplomatic impasse only the Foreign Secretary can resolve. The 83-year-old daredevil father of William Hague wants to abseil down Europe's tallest building but claims that his ambition is being thwarted by the Qatari owners of the Shard.
Nigel Hague has raised more than £100,000 for the NSPCC after performing a series of breathtaking feats. This month, he completed a wing-walk amid strong winds above Breighton Airfield in North Yorkshire. Previously, he jumped 10,000ft from an aircraft and successfully performed a tandem skydive. The octogenarian, from Harley, South Yorkshire, also scaled the 3,209ft Scafell Pike in the Lake District in 7.5 hours.
But Mr Hague's next target looks like mission impossible. He told The Independent: "I want to abseil down that new building, the Shard, for the Outward Bound Trust. But they won't let me." The Shard, which towers over the south bank of the Thames and is due to open in July, would be Mr Hague's greatest achievement. At 1,016ft, it will be the tallest building in Western Europe. Yet his ambition is being thwarted by petty bureaucracy. "They say it's because of the insurance. It's been ruled out of bounds," he said.
Mr Hague, a former pub owner and soft-drinks distributor from Rotherham, wants his latest charitable gesture to be a family affair. He said: "Ffion, William's wife, is an Outward Bound Trustee and I've discussed the idea with the board. I'd like to get the Shard but they won't let me so that's the end of that. The people who own the building are a little bit weird. So I'll think of something else."
The £450m Shard, described by critics as "a monument to fat cats", was funded by the Qatar National Bank after the London finance market crashed.
A spokesman for the Shard project said: "There have been informal discussions with Ffion Hague and the Outward Bound Trust about an abseil at a fundraising day. We haven't rejected the idea out of hand and no conclusion has been reached. Our main priority is getting the building finished for its inauguration."
The tower will be opened by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani, Qatar's Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, at a 5 July ceremony attended by the Duke of York.
The Shard spokesman added: "We don't want to dash Mr Hague's lifelong abseiling dream but we aren't Jimmy Savile. The shape of the building also makes abseiling difficult because it slopes outwards."
Mr Hague said there were no medical impediments to him abseiling.
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