Last Sunday I eventually took to the pool at Trinity School in Croydon to swim 100 lengths of it for British Polio Fellowship and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. I will admit to a few butterflies as I have never swum 2.5km before and also I felt responsible for everyone having a good time, spectators and participants alike.
I swam in lane 1 and in lanes 3 – 6 the volunteer swimmers took part in lots of fun races to keep the crowd entertained, as you can see from the programme (left). It was supposed to be strictly non-competitive, but no-one told the teams that! The four teams were BPF, LLR, QVC and CPFC. At this point I hope you don't mind me listing and thanking my friends and colleagues from QVC who took part (pictured below); Gilly Badoud, James Barton, Mike Edlin, Chloe Everton, Debbie Flint, Hannah Fuller, Hannah Pond, Roxanne Slatford, Pete Thomson and Tania Wall ( our lovely model).
I must also say a big thank you to Natalie Gray for filming on the day and then editing this piece so that those of you who were not able to attend can get a flavour of it.
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After I had completed my 100 lengths, I swam length 101, which those of you who have read my book will know is the chapter about my diagnosis with chronic myeloid leukaemia, and all the other swimmers jumped in to support me as so many people have done over the last year. My swim wasn't quite finished though. I then had the honour of racing against Paralympic Gold and Silver medalist, James Crisp.
He swam two lengths whilst I swam one, only fair considering he is half my age, and I still only just touched before him…do we think he let me win?!?!? He had brought his silver medal from London 2012 with him and allowed me to wear it for the photos after our 'race' – what a lovely chap.
All the swimmers were awarded with a medal for taking part, presented by another Paralympian polio survivor, Anne Wafula Strike, and the winning team also received a trophy. That team was BPF whose swimmers included James Crisp's girlfriend; she was lightning fast.
It was a brilliant day and well done to Charlotte and Laura from the QVC marketing team for handling everything so well on the day, to Bob Ballard for compering the event, and to former Crystal Palace footballers Geoff Thomas and John Salako…next time John you're going in the pool!
So that was Sunday, after which I went to work for Super Sunday, which I hope you all enjoyed, buoyed not only from the gala, but also Andy Murray winning Wimbledon. Then on Tuesday I had an email to tell me that the article I had done for the Daily Mail months ago to raise awareness of a condition called Post Polio Syndrome, was in that day's paper. I rang my partner Chris to ask him to get the paper while he was out shopping.
The next day another email arrived alerting me to a fabulous piece in the Daily Mirror about their journalist visiting QVC to be a 'Presenter' for a day. I didn't know she had visited so the article was a complete but lovely surprise for me as she had some very complimentary things to say. Once again I asked Chris to get a copy of the paper while he was out shopping…he goes most days as we like to buy fresh.
On Thursday, as I was about to leave for work, he sent me a text, "Which paper do I need to get today?" – he has a great sense of humour! I've sent him out this morning to buy the Croydon Advertiser…I'm not joking!
Thanks to all of you who have helped me raise over £4000 for the two charities and to those who came along to watch on the day – it was lovely to meet you.
Heading in to work shortly for Nina Leonard at 5pm and Bibi Bijoux at 6pm and then I have the weekend off – if you do too I hope you have a lovely one.