Channing School headteacher conquers fears and raises £45,000 with skydive from 12,000 feet

PUBLISHED: 16:05 04 July 2017 | UPDATED: 16:05 04 July 2017

Channing School headmistress Barbara Elliott conquered her fear of heights by successfully completing a skydive in Oxfordshire to raise money for a newly-unveiled performing arts building at the school.

Channing School headmistress Barbara Elliott conquered her fear of heights by successfully completing a skydive in Oxfordshire to raise money for a newly-unveiled performing arts building at the school.


The sky is the limit for the headteacher of an independent girls’ school who faced her ultimate fear.

Jumping tandem from 12,000 feet in Oxfordshire on Sunday, Channing School headmistress Barbara Elliott fulfilled her promise to families, who have helped her fundraise more than £45,000 in this, the final ‘push’ to complete the school’s ambitious building project.

Mrs Elliott, who prior to the skydive had said that “heights fill me with horror” and that she “never did anything remotely dangerous”, took on the challenge to raise money for the Performing Arts Building, a modern, structure now gracing The Bank in Highgate.

The state-of-the-art performance space – equipped with high tech lighting, audio, rigging and seating – was unveiled to parents at the annual Founders’ Day on Saturday, with visitors able to see the facility, which will enable pupils to take part in drama, music, lectures and debating, as well as learn technical and backstage skills at the 300-plus seater theatre space.

Inspiration for Mrs Elliott’s skydive had come from one of the school’s founders, Matilda Sharpe, who had written: “Remember to fly the highest flight and never waver.”

“I really do think I have given the performance of my life,” said Mrs Elliott, on her return to terra firma. “In facing my biggest fear, I realised that fear is all in the mind, and that I could, actually, do anything.

“I hope that this will inspire my pupils to face their own fears – perhaps just on a slightly smaller scale to begin with.”

Supported by ‘the capital challenge’ fundraising appeal, which has raised more than £2m to date, Channing has enhanced the facilities at the 132 year old Highgate Hill school, which now has a double height sports centre, sixth form centre, music school, extended dining room and now the Performing Arts Building.

The school’s latest fundraising target of £3m is “within reach” according to the school.

Mrs Elliott added: “Thank you to everyone who submitted suggestions for a personal challenge.

“All the staff and pupils know what a terrifying prospect this was for me.”

You can visit Mrs Elliott’s fundraising page by searching for ‘Mrs Elliott’s Skyfall Challenge 2017’ on justgiving.com.

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