Seventy-two children, a swim and... cancer

AMAZING Laurie Brokenshire after his sponsored sea swim
AMAZING Laurie Brokenshire after his sponsored sea swim
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By the Rev Richard England, vicar, Holy Rood and St Edmund’s, Stubbington

ONE of the fun parts of starting in a new parish is getting to know the people who make up the church community.

A particular member of Holy Rood has an amazing story.

Laurie Brokenshire is a retired naval commodore.

He and his wife Ethel have fostered 68 different children in the past 22 years, as well as bringing up four children of their own.

That’s impressive enough, but not the whole story.

This year, sadly, Laurie was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It is aggressive cancer of the brain.

Although he is undergoing treatment, the diagnosis is not good.

In this situation, it would be easy to look inwards. But not Laurie.

Typically, he decided to put others first and try to raise some money through sponsorship.

Incredibly, shortly after a gruelling six-week course of chemotherapy, he embarked on a sponsored sea swim with his family.

Between them, they swam 30 miles from Fowey in Cornwall to Plymouth.

They started in the dark, at 5.20am, and arrived at Plymouth Hoe just after 6pm.

It was a real family affair, with his children and grandchildren joining him at various stages.

They were swimming in open seas, three or four miles off the coast.

This would be an amazing feat for any of us, but was incredible for someone recovering from chemotherapy.

The swim has already raised £35,000 for charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Christian Vision for Men and Care for the Family.

What’s given Laurie the strength to keep going in such difficult circumstances?

The support of his family and the church make a huge difference.

But, he knows that, in life and death, he belongs to God who will never let go of him.

As a church community, we pray for Laurie and his family, as we pray for anyone who is suffering with ill health.

We don’t know what Laurie’s future holds but we know who holds Laurie, whatever his future is.

If you would like to contribute, there is still a chance to sponsor his swim via

n Holy Rood Church, Gosport Road, Stubbington, PO14 2AS.

n St Edmund’s Church, Lychgate Green, Stubbington, PO14 3HA.

Contact details for both churches are: parish office on 01329 661154 or via e-mail at

Or why not try the website which you’ll find at