A 200-strong group of Newcastle-based swimmers has racked up a combined 18,876 lengths of the 25-metre pool at Gosforth Leisure Centre in just five hours, raising vital funds for The Sick Children’s Trust – the charity that provides free ‘Homes from Home’ to families when they have a sick child in hospital.
Led by former international swimmer Darren Wigg, who represented Great Britain at World and European Championship level on numerous occasions, the Newcastle Swim Team successfully covered a staggering 286 miles, the distance from The Sick Children’s Trust’s Scott House ‘Home from Home’ at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital to Guilford Street House in central London, which supports families at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Former international swimmer Darren Wigg (right) with charity representatives Connor Haley (left) and Sam Haley (centre).
The epic challenge was completed on Sunday 4 December, with swimmers aged from six to 65 not only covering the distance but also smashing their £4000 fundraising target out of the water. The tally now stands at well over £6000 and continues to rise.
I’m absolutely thrilled”, said Darren, founder and director of Newcastle Physiotherapy, who was member of the Great Britain swimming medical team at the London 2012 Olympic Games. “As it costs the charity £40 for one family to stay overnight, we set ourselves the target of £4000 to cover the cost of 100 nights. With so many people involved I was always hopeful that we might raise even more money, and we now have enough for 150 nights, which is fantastic.”
“It’s been a bit of a challenge getting it together” continued Darren. “I first envisaged it being a relay-type scenario, but when we spoke to the coaches, we realised it wouldn’t work from a pool time point of view. We felt that the best way to do it was to take advantage of a five-hour window on a Sunday when all the respective age-group teams would be coming in one after the other, and we can clock their mileage in each session. It’s brilliant to be able to raise this money for The Sick Children’s Trust, a charity that does so much to support families who have a seriously ill child at our hospitals in Newcastle, just in time for Christmas.”
Members of the Newcastle Swim Team. (C) Darren Wigg.
The Sick Children’s Trust, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the charity that gives families with a seriously ill child in hospital a comfortable place to stay and a friendly ear to listen in one of their ten ‘Homes from Home’, two of which are in Newcastle. In addition to Scott House at The Freeman, the charity also has a crucial presence at The Royal Victoria Infirmary thanks to Crawford House, which was both named after and opened by Michael Crawford CBE, The Sick Children’s Trust’s President for more than 35 years.
Since 1982, The Sick Children’s Trust has supported over 73,000 families with a place to stay close to their seriously ill child’s hospital bedside. Providing families with somewhere to stay together just minutes from the hospital means that they can be by their sick child’s side and have one less thing to worry about. While it is completely free for a family to stay in the ‘Homes from Home’, it does cost the charity £40 to support a family for one night.
Sam Haley, The Sick Children’s Trust’s Head of Operations North, witnessed the challenge at Gosforth Leisure Centre. “I cannot thank Darren, the Newcastle Swim Team and all the organisers enough for their incredible efforts to raise much needed funds for us”, said Sam. “It was amazing to see so many people putting in the lengths to hit an unbelievable distance of 286 miles. We are so proud to support families at our two ‘Homes from Home’ in Newcastle, and it’s fantastic to see so many people show their support for what we do. The generosity of our supporters through fundraising challenges such as this are so vital in making sure we can continue to be there supporting more families in the future.”
More information about the Newcastle Swim Team’s fundraiser can be found on their Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/team/SCT-Swim-Challenge.