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Trustees

About Us


Providing East London and UK climbing communities with high quality climbing and associated facilities that are available to everyone regardless of ability to pay, physical ability, or skill level. We organise training and challenges that improve people’s wellbeing.

We spend our time working with local schools, youth groups, special education needs groups, pupil referral units and youth offending teams on programs ranging from GCSE climbing through to AQA awards and tailor-made programmes.

We also offer climbing opportunities and long-term development for children through our NICAS and Squad programmes. Every penny we earn goes back into the development of the centre and its facilities and sometimes it subsidises programmes for young people that might otherwise operate at a loss.




2021


This year has been a difficult one for all of us. Despite the challenges of a global pandemic and the sudden loss of our long-standing CEO, we have managed to rise to the challenge and begin where we left off back in March 2020. 

This year we have appointed a new CEO who has picked up the pieces, formed a new team and restarted the delivery of our charitable work. 

We have supported a number of people with no recourse to funds to either take up climbing as a new sport or to carry on doing something they love but were unable to afford. We have also supported a local community youth group from Bethnal Green with free climbing sessions for a year. The group, based out of St Peters Bethnal Green Church, meet every week with their instructor and continue to grow and develop as they face new challenges and learn new skills.

 

 

We continue our work with local schools and look forward to widening participation in the new year.

Our support of the youth squad is ongoing and we have supported talented young athletes as they take part in both local and national climbing competitions. As climbing made its debut at the Tokyo Olympics and will continue in Paris and Los Angeles it will be exciting to see these talented young people strive towards the opportunities that arise.

We have exciting and ambitious plans for 2022 that will see our work enhanced and developed more than ever before. We will be updating this page early in the new year.

We thank all our friends from within the amazing climbing community, and those outside. We couldn't do it without you. 

Here's to even greater things.


Trustees


Photo of Rod Leefe

Rod Leefe

Chairman

"I'm currently on a mission to break into the UK's 50 fastest middle-distance indoor rowers in my age group."

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Photo of Martin Soulsby

Martin Soulsby

Treasurer

"My obsession is skydiving which I have done for over 30 years and I represent the UK internationally."

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Photo of Brenda Taggart

Brenda Taggart

Trustee

"I particularly enjoy supporting MECW's social programme and often provide the catering at events."

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Photo of Carolina Filippini

Carolina Filippini

Trustee

"I genuinely believe that climbing, and sport in general, offer incredible benefits both in terms of fitness and mental health."

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Photo of Adam Blewett

Adam Blewett

Trustee

"We have a world class climbing facility in our community that is run as a charity for the benefit of its membership"

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Photo of Calum McLean

Calum McLean

Trustee

"Be nice to your belayer!"

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...

Rod Leefe

Chairman


PROFILE

I'm an entrepreneur, investor and strategist with a background on both private and listed boards. I invest in people-related technology businesses, including recruitment brands like Snap.hr, Sonic Jobs, Juggle.jobs; Qdooz (a continuing professional development app), and TalkLife (an online peer to peer support network for mental health). I also chair the boards of established businesses in the Corporate Finance and Recycling sectors When I'm not working I'm interested in participating in things involving speed and endurance. Activities include high altitude hiking, long distance motorcycling and backcountry skiing - everywhere from the Rockies to Japan. I keep fit by mountain biking and indoor rowing where I'm currently on a mission to break into the UK's 50 fastest middle-distance indoor rowers in my age group. I've never tried climbing but it's now on the list!

WHY DID YOU BECOME A TRUSTEE?

I wholeheartedly subscribe to the idea that we develop through challenge and joining a sporting-based charity that benefits the community in inner London where I might be able to help was a no-brainer.

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF DTC?

I see Mile End not only as one of London's top climbing facilities - for both serious and recreational climbers - but also as the climbing wall that does most for the community - making a real positive, lasting impact on people.


...

Martin Soulsby

Treasurer


HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A TRUSTEE?

Ten years

PROFILE

If climbing is my hobby, my obsession is skydiving which I have done for over 30 years with 4,500 jumps. I represent the UK internationally and am a multiple national champion, I am also currently the Chair of British Parachute Association. Which all helps to explain why I climb so badly.

To pay for all this I am a Director of a recruitment company.

WHY DID YOU BECOME A TRUSTEE OF DTC

To actively be involved in a charity that has given me so much fun, by adding my commercial skills and experience to make a lasting difference.

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF DTC

For Mile End to continue to act as a great gateway to our sport for a the whole range of individuals across all age groups. While also to continue developing the facilities to stay as one of the leading walls in London.


...

Brenda Taggart

Trustee


HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A TRUSTEE?

10 years

PROFILE

I have spent the last 40 years in education both as a teacher, head teacher and researcher. I am currently a Visiting Research Associate at UCL Institute of Education. I am one of the few none climbers on the Board of Trustees which, I think, brings a different perspective to the role.

I particularly enjoy supporting MECW's social programme and often provide the catering at events. In my leisure time I travel, drink wine and knit - often all at the same time.

WHY DID YOU BECOME A TRUSTEE OF DTC

I first became associated with MECW when my two children (now grown-up) started climbing with the 'Kids Club'. I began to appreciate the many benefits of climbing as a sport. It has provided my children with companionship, confidence and many many skills. They have gone onto climb all over the world. Becoming a Trustee provided an opportunity to 'give something back' to a sport that provides wonderful opportunities for people of all ages

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF DTC

It is a privilege to contribute to the Charity and to further its work in providing opportunities for people of all ages to enhance their fitness, confidence and skills. I look forward to extending our charitable reach to new groups and individuals.


...

Carolina Filippini

Trustee


PROFILE

I grew up in a small village in Valle d'Aosta (Italy) and started climbing when I was a child. I have been part of the local climbing community for a long time and I have always been amazed about how open and inclusive climbing is as a sport as well as the mental health benefits that I gained through it. I had a major climbing accident in 2002 and although I got away with it without major consequences, it took me a long time to start again and I could have never done it without the support of other fellow climbers. 

When I moved to the UK in 2005, despite having lost easy access to the northern Italian alpine crags, I was amazed to find out that London offers excellent indoors climbing facilities as I had never seen before. I have also met fantastic people who are truly passionate about climbing and I must admit that my "urbanised" life would have not been the same without them.

WHY DID YOU BECOME A TRUSTEE? 

I am an architect with over 15 years of experience in the construction industry. Since 2013, I have been planning and delivering large capital projects working on the client side for arts & culture and educational institutions and the public sector. When I saw that DtC was looking for new trustees with experience in Construction, Project Management and Governance, I thought that this would be a wonderful opportunity to get involved in a charity that supports something very close to my heart and where my professional skills could make a difference.

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF DTC?

I thoroughly subscribe to the DtC charitable objectives and I genuinely believe that climbing, and sport in general, offer incredible benefits both in terms of fitness and mental health. I am keen to seeing MECW develop further as a centre of excellence for climbing, while maintaining the ethos of offering good value climbing for all. 


...

Adam Blewett

Trustee


PROFILE

Like a lot of people, I started climbing indoors at MECW. Quite a bit has changed at the wall in the last ten years, but it’s still as fun and welcoming as it ever was - even if the price of a cuppa has gone up.

I’ve never been mad about living in the city, and climbing became something of an escape and a mental focus away from my day job as a legal advisor, and then a  gateway obsession for a whole raft of other outdoor activities. 

WHY DID YOU BECOME A TRUSTEE?

I’m hoping I can bring some of my experience to the board, and help other people discover what I did in climbing.

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF DTC?

Short term, supporting the wonderful management team and staff of the wall through 2021 safely and happily!

After that the sky's the limit. The fact that we have a world class climbing facility in our community that is run as a charity for the benefit of its membership and the public needs shouting from the rooftops (again). I want to see MECW maintain its reputation as a leading wall, whilst promoting DTC’s charitable objectives of making the sport accessible and welcoming to everyone. It’s also really importantly to me personally that we take action to minimise the environmental impact of our operations.


...

Calum McLean

Trustee


Profile

I’m a technology investor and my career has been largely spent in the Finance sector. I’ve served on numerous boards, helping to define strategy, raise funding and grow small businesses. I am a long-term resident of the area and have seen how it has changed, dramatically, over the years and I believe in the collective strength the community can show, when encouraged and given space to do so. When I’m not assessing business ideas for disruptive new technology, I’m likely to be found working on my EV conversion project and lobbying my local council for more charging points. When travel is once again permitted I intend to return to the mountains to hike, ski and cycle.

Why did you become a Trustee?

As a climber and a local, I can see first hand how valuable a resource the Wall is, both to the immediate community and those who travel further to use it. I wanted to help in any way I could to ensure that the Mile End Wall grows and thrives, for the benefit of all.

What is your personal vision for the future of DtC?

DtC is in a unique position to use its charitable status to bring climbing to those who many not ordinarily consider it as something ‘for them’. I want DtC to expand its reach into our wider community and deliver the benefits it can bring to both mental and physical wellbeing.


Contact




Address

Development through Challenge
Mile End Climbing Wall
Haverfield Road
London E3 5BE.

Email

enquiries@mileendwall.org.uk

Phone

020 8980 0289

Registration Details

Development through Challenge is a registered charity number 299332.