Early last Wednesday a beautiful bright pink baby girl arrived and her mum, my wonderful little sister Nicole, named her Valentina Elise.
To say I was honoured is an understatement. She’s perfect. A much-loved surprise third baby who hadn’t featured in her parents’ plans but welcomed with pure joy.
In the days before the swim I checked the forecast every 30 minutes hoping the weather gods would smile on us for the cross-Solent to the Isle of Wight for Samaritans.
The outlook was dreadful, but the picture improved the closer we got.
Thanks to Wightlink, which donated our crossing from Gunwharf to Fishbourne, we arrived on the island on Saturday morning hoping that in less than 24 hours I’d be in the water.
My heart raced as we walked along the clifftop at Freshwater Bay and a big slice of sunlight broke through. A slab of now-glistening water was in front of me. There were a few white horses but it looked invitingly swimmable.
At our Saturday night briefing I was given my swim number – 1b, which meant that, with 1a, I’d lead the other 40 swimmers, who’d come from all over the country, out from Hurst Point to Colwell Bay – not because we were the fastest, because we were the slowest. I didn’t care, I was doing it!
My adrenaline was flowing... until 8pm when we were told that with Force 4 winds working against the tide, the chop would be too much.
It wouldn’t be safe and the swim was off until next spring. I was gutted.
But I’ve made fantastic friends through swimming and raised hundreds of pounds for an amazing charity.
So if there’s one lesson I can give Valentina Elise it’s that life rarely works out the way you planned, but if you put your heart and soul into it, wonderful, unexpected things happen along the way.
Just like her.
•Elise is deputy features editor at The News. She was raising money for Samaritans and you can still sponsor her by going to bit.ly/2vL5AhZ.