Battling the waves in aid of our blue bonanza

CHALLENGE Swimmers led by Matt Chapman, centre, swam between Southsea's two piers for the Tom Prince Cancer Trust. Front left is Harry Yard and right is Warren Whittingham.   Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (113069-1)
CHALLENGE Swimmers led by Matt Chapman, centre, swam between Southsea's two piers for the Tom Prince Cancer Trust. Front left is Harry Yard and right is Warren Whittingham. Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (113069-1)
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PUB-GOERS hit the water for a pier-to-pier challenge in aid of the Tom Prince Cancer Trust.

About 30 regulars at The Festing, on Festing Road, Southsea, took to the sea to swim from Clarence Pier to South Parade Pier, raising £7,500 in sponsorship.

SWIM In the sea

SWIM In the sea

As they completed their challenge a large crowd of friends and family walked along the seafront cheering on the swimmers – who have been training since April.

And it was 46-year-old Lindsey Edwards, pictured below, who touched South Parade Pier first, completing the 1.2 mile distance in just 26 minutes.

Lindsey, of Sovereign Crescent, Titchfield, said: ‘It was a bit rough at the end and there was lots of seaweed getting in the way, but apart from that it was really good.

‘It’s surprisingly hard to swim in a straight line, I kept veering off to the side, but I just tried to stay focused on the pier and swim towards that. It feels amazing to have done it.’

The group originally wanted to host its swimathon for Blue Day – our charity fundraiser in May that brings the city together in aid of the trust – but decided to wait for warmer weather.

The trust was set up in 2004, shortly after young Tom’s death from bone cancer osteosarcoma, by his mum Adele, dad Clinton and sister Emma, who hope to generate £1m and have reached £604,000 to date – £174,000 from our Blue Days.

One of Tom’s closest friends, Luke Threadingham, 22, of Goldsmith Avenue, Southsea, said: ‘The swim was tough but it was worth every minute of it. It’s all about keeping Tom’s memory alive and helping Clinton and Adele get to their £1m target. They’re over halfway there but we’re not going to stop fundraising until they get all of it.’

Pub regular Michael McCormick, of Green Street, Southsea, wanted to join the swimmers but, not being able to swim, he gave himself a non-stop four hour bike challenge instead.

Mr McCormick set up a cycling machine in The Festing and completed his task.

The 42-year-old said: ‘It was torture that they’d all finished their swimathon and were drinking and celebrating, and I had to keep going. But it was all for a good cause and that’s what kept me going.’

As well as the sponsored swim, The Festing’s landlord, Matt Chapman organised a large charity night with live bands and a raffle, which raised an estimated £8,000.

He said: ‘We wanted to do something big and it’s worked really well. We’re very happy with the amount of money we raised and we’re thinking about how to make it bigger next year so that we can raise even more.’

Tom’s dad Clinton, said: ‘It’s a fantastic achievement for everyone here, they’ve done really well and we are proud of them all.’