A LOCAL sculptor who did not let the fact that swimming pools were closed for much of last year stop her from completing an “epic” 44-mile swimming challenge for charity is back in the pool to do it all again for 2021.

Carrie Horwood, who owns Cats Eye Carving at Taurus Crafts in Lydney, completed the doubled-up Swim22 challenge, which involves swimming 22 miles in 12 weeks to raise money for Diabetes UK, last summer, despite the closure of swimming pools for long periods due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Determined to complete the challenge, Carrie, 46, bought a 10-foot paddling pool and rigged up a swim tether so that she could complete her swims at home during lockdown.

And Carrie is not letting up in 2021, having begun this year’s challenge at home in March and braving nine-degree temperatures at Bathurst Open Air pool when it reopened in April.

Both of Carrie’s parents have type two diabetes, and her sister-in-law also lives with type one of the disease.

She overcame multiple challenges to complete last year’s sponsored swim, including breaking her elbow when she fell into a pothole on the way to Bathurst pool during a brief lull in lockdown restrictions last summer.

Four weeks later, Carrie was back in the pool raring to complete the challenge.

Carrie has donned a full wetsuit at times during her swims, but is now braving the cold water without it as the weather starts to warm up.

She said: “I have finally plucked up the courage to swim without my wetsuit gear and brave the water in just my swimsuit.

“The warmest I’ve swum in so far is 14.8 degrees, but it did get up to 16 degrees last week.”

Carrie is fitting the swims in around the running of her shop and the creation of an “incredible” war memorial which she is carving for a local village.

She says she is “delighted” that a collection box in her shop is "filling up swiftly due to the generosity of the public."

Phaedra Perry, who is the regional head of Diabetes UK South West, hailed Carrie as an “absolute legend” for her fundraising efforts last year.

She said: “We are delighted to welcome back Carrie to this year’s Swim 22.

“She was an absolute legend last year, overcoming so much adversity to, nonetheless, complete the challenge.

“Without Carrie and others like her, we simply would not be able to offer help to the thousands of people with diabetes contacting us, or to campaign to keep people with diabetes safe in the workplace, or to invest in the latest vital ground-breaking research.”

The Swim 22 campaign from Diabetes UK was established to raise money for the provision of support for an estimated 4.9 million people living with diabetes in the UK.

The charity says that unless managed carefully, both type one and type two diabetes can lead to “devastating complications” including sight loss, amputation, kidney failure and strokes, but that with the right treatment and support, people living with diabetes can lead “a long and healthy life”.

To sponsor Carrie for this year’s challenge, go to swim22.diabetes.org.uk/fundraising/carrie2020.

More information about the Swim22 campaign can be found at swim22.diabetes.org.uk.