The British Airways i360 is a moving observation platform situated on Brighton beach on the south coast of the UK. A glass pod designed and built by cable car manufacturer Poma, rises from sea level to 140m where the passengers can enjoy panoramic 360-degree views of the city of Brighton and the surrounding countryside, all whilst enjoying drinks from the onboard bar. At only 3.9m wide, the tower is a monumental feat of engineering in itself and has won numerous awards for its design.
Local IRATA training member company, Belay Rope Access, have been involved with the British Airways i360 project in a consultative capacity since its inception and have recruited and trained the rescue team responsible for evacuating up to 200 passengers in case of emergency. All IRATA trained, they are a mix of level 3 instructor and level 1 technicians whose day jobs vary from wind turbine maintenance and outdoor pursuits instruction to Police rope access protester removal!
Belay was asked by the i360 management to plan and run a charity event for 30 plucky volunteers who were raising money for Rockinghorse, a children’s charity that buys specialist paediatric equipment for local hospitals. Many of the participants and the team had a personal connection to the charity so Belay jumped at the chance to give their time and expertise to the cause.
With the huge help of Bob Murdoch and Malcolm Cobb Skylotec UK and Andrew Hearn at Marlow Ropes, both IRATA member companies, a plan was put together to offer a straight twin rope abseil, rigged for lowering, and an automatic constant rate descender option. The team worked hard to ensure that as many people as possible could take part in spite of ability.
Throughout the process Belay worked closely with the i360 management and Rockinghorse to ensure everybody’s safety and wellbeing.
The Belay team was professional and thoroughly conscious of safety throughout and the participants all reported feeling calm and very well looked after. They even had to deal with a celebrity participant in the form of champion middleweight boxer Chris Eubank Junior. Despite being rather quiet standing on the edge 140m in the air, he turned out to be a natural rope access tech. One of our operating members might want to offer him a job if earning millions in the boxing ring ever gets boring.
In total over £40,000 was raised for the charity and 30 people went away with an experience that will stay with them forever.