A selfless swimmer has completed 60 ‘wild swims’ and raised over £1300 for local charity, Treetops Hospice, who helped care for her late mum.
Gaynor Bentley, 60, swam across 60 different wild locations, including the Rivelin Valley, in Sheffield, and Spring Lakes, in Nottingham. Her final swim took place on Christmas Day.
Gaynor, from Ripley, who admits she’s not the strongest swimmer, faced a number of challenges along the way, including the impact of the pandemic and swimming in sub-zero water temperatures.
“It felt at times like everything was against me! I had booked swimming lessons which then couldn’t take place because of Covid restrictions. There were unfriendly tides, currents, algae and petrol shortages whilst we were in Cornwall curtailing travelling for three days.
“But I made it and what kept me going was the support and donations that just kept coming.”
Gaynor more than doubled her fundraising target and has many fond memories from her swims too:
“It wasn’t all bad! I met some lovely people at the swimming locations and discovered places where I definitely want to go back to for another swim.
“I have some lovely memories; the Puffins at Flamborough Head, a heron flying over me at Carding Mill, a family of ducklings swimming at the side of me at Knaresborough, seeing a seal at Land’s End and dolphins at Scarborough.
“There were also some funny moments. In Cornwall, I was wading through two feet of Kelp to get in the sea and a local fisherman advised me that ‘it’s a lovely swim when the tide comes in’.
“I forgot my swimming costume at St Michael’s Mount so had to go in the sea in my underwear. The gardeners at Retford told me where ‘the lady vicar’ (Reverend Kate Botley) gets in the River and struggles up a muddy bank to slide back into the water, which my husband said reminded him of a seal. I then couldn’t get out for laughing!”
Gaynor’s mum, Ada Clayton, from Heanor, received nursing care from Treetops nurses at the end of her life at home
Gaynor said: “I will never forget Treetops support at what was probably the biggest challenge of my life – working full-time and caring for my Mum.
“The nurses would look after mum to give me and my dad a night off from caring for her. We could have a good night’s sleep and recharge our batteries. We also had some respite during the day.
“We wouldn’t have got through without the Treetops nurses and the challenge of completing 60 open water swims seemed easy in comparison.”
To document her journey and raise awareness for Treetops, Gaynor shared images and videos of her swims captured by her husband, Steve, on @60swimsat60 Instagram account.
“I couldn’t have done all this without Steve’s support,” Gaynor added. “but I have promised him I’m not doing another challenge for quite a while!”
Treetops Head of Community Relationships, Adela Appleby said:
“We want to say a huge thank you and congratulations to Gaynor on this amazing achievement. It’s such an innovative way to fundraise for the hospice and it sounds like she’s made some fabulous memories along the way.
“Gaynor has raised enough money to help pay for twelve nights of Hospice at Home nursing care for a patient who’s at the very end of life, who’s chosen to die at home.
“Thanks to the kind support from people like Gaynor, we can continue to provide our vital care to even more people in the community.”
Feeling inspired? Treetops would love to hear from anyone keen to take part in the Great North Swim and raise money for the hospice. The Great North Swim takes place from Friday 10 to Sunday 12 June 2022 at Lake Windermere. It’s the UK’s biggest open-water swimming event. Those interested should contact the Fundraising Team on 0115 949 1264 or email firstname.lastname@example.org