Celebrating the Big 60 Raises £600

As I was approaching the grand old age of 60 in June this year, I decided to celebrate in a way that I would always remember! At the same time I wanted to raise funds for the MND Association in memory of my dad, who sadly passed away in 1997 from this dreadful disease.

My initial thoughts were to do something like the great North Run, as over the past few years I’ve attended the Run as a helper in the MND Charity tent.

Or should I have a go at the three peaks? Or even Chichen Itza? As I love walking, one of these options seemed the best. Unfortunately I developed problems with my back and hip which ruled them out. As I am terrified of heights, doing an abseil, zip wire or anything similar was a no go.

Eventually I plumped for swimming as I am a regular swimmer at our local baths. To make it more interesting I decided to do a sponsored open water swim and after some research, opted for the Great Manchester Swim which takes place at Salford. I entered the mile option, little knowing just how many lengths of a pool that was!!

I started gradually and built up to 64 lengths. However, swimming in a costume is different from swimming in a wet suit, which is compulsory for all open water swims. My husband Tony’s ears pricked up when I told him I was going to be buying a rubber outfit, but what a disappointment he was in for!

Still, it did the job, and one Thursday evening after work I found myself getting changed in the car park of the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Country Park near Ashington. I had I enrolled on an introductory course for open water swimming, and I’m so glad I did. What a difference it made.

Jacqui ready to go at Salford

The weekend after the course found myself and many others at Salford Quays, knees shaking (not from the cold but stage fright), waiting for the signal to get in and go! It had seemed a very long way when we walked the course on the previous evening, but it was fun once we started, and I felt a great sense of achievement when I arrived at the finish line.

Jacqui swimming

I would recommend taking part to anyone who likes swimming –  it is far better being out there in the open water. I was delighted that not only was it was a great way to celebrate my ‘coming of age’, but I also managed to raise £600 for the association.

Jacqui with finishers medal

— Jacqui Hewison



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