Elle English is taking on her toughest challenge yet to make a difference to a little boy’s life.
The 22-year-old from Milton has decided to swim from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight to raise money for her friend’s young son.
Four-year-old Theo suffers from a condition called congenital CMV and cannot walk, sit up or feed himself.
Elle wants to raise enough money to buy Theo a special chair which will allow him to sit up.
The custom-made chair costs £2,000 and that is her target.
She will be doing the swim in August.
‘I have been told that the summer months are the best time to swim from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, so this is when I’m doing it,’ she says.
‘Swimming that distance is something I’ve always wanted to do but never had a reason why. Now I do.
‘Theo is the son of one of my friends and I have heard a lot about his condition.
‘I was really eager to do something for him because as well as not being able to move around on his own, his vision is severely impaired, he is deaf in one ear and he suffers from epilepsy and respiratory problems.’
Elle adds: ‘He can’t even sit on the sofa and relax because he has no support.
‘But despite all this, Theo is a very happy and loving little boy.
‘And, although it is very difficult for him, he loves learning new things.
‘His favourite thing is standing up with a little help and even though he’s a bit wobbly on his feet, it’s a joy to watch him stretching out, with a huge smile on his face.’
Elle is determined to do all she can to make a difference in Theo’s life.
So far, she has had a lot of support from her company, Fairways Care, and is feeling confident about reaching her target.
She says: ‘Everyone has been great and shown loads of support.
‘I think I will be able to reach the target seeing as I still have a few months to go.’
Having swum all her life, Elle is not feeling daunted by the challenge. But it will be the first time she has swum in open water.
Fortunately, Elle’s brother, Mike Needham, is also swimming with her for support.
She adds: ‘When I first mentioned the idea, I asked him if he would do it with me and he said yes.
‘He has always liked swimming too so it is nice we can do it together.’
To make a donation to Elle, simply visit justgiving.com/Elle-English.