Skip to main content

Team from Charlton Farm make a splash

28 October 2019 chsw Events, Fundraising

On September 29, a team of swimmers who work at Children's Hospice South West (CHSW) in various capacities, braved the elements and swam a distance of 2km or 4km around the beautiful Lake Wimbleball in Exmoor as part of the annual Exmoor Open Water Swim.

The 14-strong team connected to CHSW’s Charlton Farm had varied degrees of open water swimming experience. Rowena Dominy, Care Team member at Charlton Farm, said: “Some of us are seasoned open water swimmers, some of us couldn't even get their face in the water six months ago. We're all getting together to raise money for our fabulous hospice, where we are all so proud and happy to work.”


CHSW’s Charlton Farm supports over 220 families who face the emotional and physical strain of caring for children who, sadly, are not expected to live into adulthood. Children and their families can take short breaks at the hospice to re-charge their batteries and provide a much-needed break to parents from the ongoing strains of caring for their children at home, juggling professional and medical appointments as well as maintaining family life and employment.

CHSW’s Medical Director, Dr Emma Heckford said: I have now swum the Wimbleball 4km swim for CHSW two years running. Last year it was just me from Charlton Farm so this year I harnessed the enthusiasm of my colleague Kate Owen to get a team of us together, which was much more fun! The day itself was particularly wet and windy but the team spirit was lovely and everyone’s determination was admirable. This year was particularly special for me as my mum, Julia, who turned 70 this year, set herself the challenge of completing the 2km swim, having never done anything like that before.”


Dr Mary Gainsborough from Charlton Farm swam the 4k alongside her daughter, Annie, who has been training in open water near her home in Sheffield. Annie said: “During our first winter (with the water under 5ºC!) we'd sometimes only stay in for a few minutes, but by spring (10-15ºC) we'd built up tolerance and strength and started swimming longer distances. I usually swim in a wetsuit, but my friends swim ‘skins’, the colloquial term for swimming without neoprene.”


Mary has experience of swimming in open water, particularly in Scotland. She said: “I never pass up the chance of a quick dip in a lake or the sea, so I liked the sound of the Wimbleball swim but definitely was going to be a challenge for me as a confirmed breaststroke swimmer who’d not swum more than 1k in a pool. Over the year I’ve forced my face into the cold water to do some crawl, starting in Clevedon Marina in about April and gradually upping the distance over the summer.”

The CHSW team were among 500 swimmers who took to Wimbleball Lake in the strong winds and rain. Frances Kenneally, Community Fundraiser at CHSW said: “We are so grateful to this team for completing this challenge in such challenging conditions and raising money for Children’s Hospice South West. They all work so hard as part of our Care Team and we appreciate them giving their time to train and take part in this challenge.  They have raised a tremendous sum for our charity.”

Exmoor Open Water Swim is taking place on 28 September 2020 with entries going live at the end of January. CHSW is one of the official chosen charities for the event and will have places available for the 2020 swim.