Brave fundraisers brace themselves for gruelling swim from Northern Ireland to Scotland for charity

The Eastney Dippers who will be taking on the charity epic later this month. Pictured left to right:  (back row) Trish Ellam-Speed, Jon Ford, Chris Pitman and Charlie Becke. Front row: Bekki Kingshott and Heather Massey.
The Eastney Dippers who will be taking on the charity epic later this month. Pictured left to right: (back row) Trish Ellam-Speed, Jon Ford, Chris Pitman and Charlie Becke. Front row: Bekki Kingshott and Heather Massey.
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AN ‘INTREPID’ band of swimmers is bracing themselves to cross the North Channel as they tackle their latest charity epic.

Trish Ellam-Speed, Jon Ford, Chris Pitman, Charlie Becke, Bekki Kingshott and Heather Massey will be braving the chilly waters of the channel as they look to swim 21 miles from Northern Ireland to Scotland later this month.

The squad of six – who are part of the Eastney Dippers – will be swimming in relay to cover the distance, rotating every hour until they reach the Scottish coast.

The audacious crossing is all in aid of Hampshire-based charity, Amazing Alice which was set up following the death of Andover 12-year-old Alice Razza to support other families of children with terminal or life-limiting conditions.

Charlie – who knew Alice and works with her dad, Rik – hoped the team’s swim would raise £2,000 for the charity.

The 42-year-old, of Denmead, said: ‘This swim is really personal for me, there’s a lot riding on it.

‘Alice’s dad has been my trainer and mentor for the last couple of years so I just want to give something back.’

She added: ‘It is daunting. The North Channel is hard because of the weather. Plus, there are more jellyfish to worry about.’

It’s not the first time the Dippers have completed a charity swim – they’ve previously swum from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight and Dover to Calais.

And they’ve been hardening their body for their latest attempt by tackling regular swims along the Eastney coastline.

Some squad members are going the extra mile by taking on other long-distance challenges this month too.

John, 51, of Denmead, is swimming the Channel today as part of a relay team.

Chris, 68, of Havant, and Becky, 50, of Emsworth, will swim from Jersey to France tomorrow.

While 39-year-old Heather, of Lee-on-the-Solent, hopes to tackle a solo Channel swim from next week.

Charlotte said: ‘People sometimes ask us if we’re mad or they give us funny looks when we tell them that we swim in the sea throughout the year.

‘But the best reaction I’ve ever had was from a fellow swimmer who said we were “really intrepid”. I really like that.’

The Eastney Dippers aim to complete their swim in about 14 hours, setting off at some point between Tuesday, July 23 and Sunday, July 28.

To donate, see uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/EastneyDippers1