AN EVENING of salsa at Hanover Court in Cinderford on Wednesday, August 2, marked the last major event in a massive fundraising effort for Ruardean Woodside endurance swimmer Fleur Hawthorne.
Fleur, a care worker and mother of three, is in the final stages of preparation for her Channel swim attempt which is due to take place in mid-September. She has so far raised £4,000 for It’s in the Bag, a testicular cancer charity offering support across the South West, and Great Western Air Ambulance.
Fleur is training at Halo in Ross-on-Wye, who have donated a year’s full membership, and is about to start at Bathurst Pool in Lydney as well as swimming in a tidal pool in Clevedon.
She is trying to swim at least five days a week and some days twice, a schedule that her partner Gavin Wilkinson describes as “almost impossible.”
“The first fundraiser was held at Hanover Court last year as my daughter works there, and they have been very supportive with fundraisers all the way through,” Fleur told the Review. “A salsa group in Coleford organised an evening of dancing and it went really well. The residents all had a great time.”
Fleur says her training is going according to plan so far. “I completed my six hour qualifying cold water swim in west Wales in water that was just 14.5 degrees. My biggest concern for the swim is boredom as I just have to keep going for around14 hours. My son Jack, son-in-law Josh and a friend Gavin will be in the support boat, so I’m hoping they will help to keep me motivated.
“I also experienced a bit of sickness in the qualifying swim from taking on water, so I’m hoping I can get over that before I cross the channel. Jellyfish are also a bit of a worry,”
The exact timing of the attempt depends on weather and conditions. Fleur is planning on a liquid diet during the swim of electrolyte drinks, hot chocolate and soup.
“It all started as a bit of a joke,” Fleur said. “I went on a major health kick when I turned 40 and lost five stone and I used to say I’d swim the channel. Eventually a friend told me I should just get on with it, so I am.”
To find out more about Fleur’s attempt, or to donate, visit www.fleursbigswim.co.uk