Harrogate nurse to swim English Channel to make her late mother proud

A Harrogate nurse who answered the frontline call of the coronavirus crisis shortly after losing her own mother just before Christmas is aiming to swim the English Channel this week.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 11:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 11:40 am
English Channel Swim challenge - Harrogate nurse Andrea Stark, right, with fellow charity team members Jacqui Hargrave, Leanne Davis and Richard Powell.

Andrea Stark said had chosen to support the Samaritans as part of the challenge because of the charity's tireless work - especially their direct support of Key Workers like those at Harrogate District Hospital during this difficult time.

Andrea, who is a familiar face to young people in Harrogate, having previously worked as a school nurse at King James' School in Knaresborough, plans to swim the English Channel in relay formation as part of a four-person team.

There will be no wetsuits, just swimming costumes, goggles and swim hats as the nurse and her fellow open water swimmer and friend Jacqui Hargrave set off tomorrow, September 23 - weather and water conditions permitting.

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Preparing for the swim challenge of a lifetime - Knaresborough's Jacqui Hargrave, Richard Powell, Leanne Davis and Harrogate nurse Andrea Stark.

Andrea said: "People are making the link between open water swimming to positive mental health.

"When I took up open water swimming with my swimming partner Jacqui seven years ago, I found it to be a happy release for the stresses of everyday life

"Mental health is just as important as physical health and deserves the care and support we would give if someone has a physical injury."

While hoping for good weather, calm, warm seas and no jellyfish, Andrea and the rest of the four-strong team have all been thoroughly supported by SwimYourSwim, whose rigorous adherence to safety measures have made training for the event possible.

Still it will be their biggest and riskiest challenge to date and it will be an emotional time for Andrea, in particular.

She said: "The training with Jacqui and the support from my family and SwimYourSwim family has really been a source of focus and comfort for me since my mother died just before Christmas. I’d like her to be proud of me.”

Jacqui Hargrave, who lives in Knaresborough is also well known since launching her internationally consumed open water swimming blog, alongside many BBC radio appearances to discuss her Open Water Swimming publications.

Her chosen charity is Harrogate-based Saint Michael's Hospice in memory of a good friend who passed away two years ago.

Jacqui said: "I’ve been open water swimming for the last seven years, all thanks to my swim buddy Andrea who suggested we try it

"Andrea and I have skirted around doing the Channel relay several times. It’s a great swim, but its not without risk.

"This isn’t a challenge I’ve taken lightly. The Channel can be a dangerous swim and with the low water temperatures, 15c to 18c, hypothermia is a real threat.

"The reason I’ve selected Saint Michael’s Hospice as my chosen cause is that they look such good care of my best friend in her final days.

"Funding for charities has been massively affected by coronavirus.

"With any money raised, Saint Michael's Hospice will be able to continue to provide the vital services that help people with terminal illness to live and die well."

The remainder of the Channel challenge team hail from outside the Harrogate district.

Also taking part in the swim will be Derbyshire resident Richard Powell, who works as deputy manager at a Health Centre in Chesterfield and will be raising money for Combat Stress, the UK's leading charity for veterans' mental health.

The final member of the team is Leanne Davis, who works as a paramedic in Rotherham and is swimming for Dreamflight, a UK charity that changes young lives through taking children with a serious illness or disability, without their parents, on the holiday of a lifetime to Orlando.

Andrea Stark said preparing for the swim had already helped her focus and she had already raised more than £1,000 for The Samaritans.

If you would like to support the English Channel Swim team, visit the team members' individual fundraising pages at www.justgiving.com/fundraising or visit their Facebook pages.

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