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Comedian takes plunge to aid baby unit
COMEDIAN Armando Iannucci joined fellow hospital charity supporters in plunging 100 feet from the top of the John Radcliffe Hospital as part of its annual abseil challenge.
About 90 people took part in the event, which organisers expect to have raised £30,000.
The Bafta-winning satirist and comedy writer behind hit TV show The Thick of It is the patron of the Silver Star Society, which supports women through difficult pregnancies.
He he was joined by medics, mums, dads and hospital supporters in the nerve-wracking challenge yesterday.
Before he was taken up to the top of the Women’s Centre building, he said: “I’m told the scary bit is when you have to lean back and every part of your body tells you are insane.
He joked: “If Malcolm Tucker (from The Thick of It) were here he would probably shut up, because he wouldn’t want to show that he was scared in any way.
“He would be muttering away in a mantra and it would be unprintable.”
Mr Iannucci added: “This makes so much money for the charity and that’s important.
“All three of my kids have been through the Silver Star unit and I was made patron two years ago.”
Also taking on the challenge was consultant in obstetric medicine Lucy Mackillop, who works at the unit.
She said: “I was also born at this hospital and I think I’m the only consultant who was born here that now works here.
Dr Mackillop added: “I am a little bit nervous, I actually did once abseil aged 10 at one of those camps kids go on, so as long as I can get over the edge, it will be alright.”
Prof Chris Redman set up the specialist unit to look after women experiencing complications in pregnancy in 1970. He has since retired but is heavily involved in fundraising for the unit through the Silver Star Society, the charity set up to help fund its work.
He said: “It’s an extraordinary gift we get back from people who we have looked after when they support us like this.
“It’s a measure of how important they think the unit is."
One mum facing her fear of heights was Lisa Kiel, from Rose Hill, who dressed as a big baby.
She said she had taken part to thank the hospital for helping to deliver her daughter Elana Rae.
“I was sponsored £50 by a friend to do the abseil in this outfit,” she said.
Others took part to raise funds for the heart centre; the injury minimisation programme for schools; the post-acute unit and Coasters, which helps people with mental health problems participate in sport.
Cancer charity supporters will have the opportunity to test their mettle at another abseil day at the hospital on Sunday, June 17.