In memory of my amazing mum, I am doing two swimming challenges in 2017 to raise money for the Sally Allan Fund. Set up by my family in partnership with Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, the fund aims to improve North East mental health. My first swim is one mile in Lake Windermere on 10 June and the second is two miles in Loch Lomond on 26 August. My mum took her own life in the river Tyne on Boxing Day 2015 due to mental health issues she had been masking and battling on her own for some time. By sharing our story and raising money we hope no other family we have to suffer our tragic loss.
The Sally Allan Fund improves mental health by delivering free mental health awareness presentations to organisations and community groups across the region. The presentations encourage people to think about their own mental health, how they can help others and why we need to end the stigma and discrimination that surrounds it. The presentation also gives advice on self-care and encourages people to talk about this subject with family, friends and work colleagues. Since the fund was launched over 500 people have received the presentation and the feedback confirms it does positively change attitudes to mental health.
Swimming seems the perfect challenge to do in my mum’s memory as she was the one who gave me my passion for the sport from an early age. From swimming trips as a toddler, paying for my first swimming lessons to being a founding member of Ponteland Amateur Swimming Club who I swam with for over 8 years. She also gave me a love for open water swimming, especially the cold North Sea, by buying me wetsuits to stop me freezing on family holidays up the Northumberland coast. Whether it was competing in galas or splashing about for fun in the sea, my mum was always there encouraging and helping me.
I know my mum would be proud of me for swimming these two events in her memory and for helping others by raising mental health awareness. She will be my inspiration as I dive into the water this summer and her encouragement will still be there getting me over the finish line.