A GROUP of fundraisers are diving into cold waters for 24 hours in the name of charity.
And they’re completing the 24-hour swim this weekend on behalf of a terminally-ill Netherton grandmother.
Cath Winterburn, 60, has pancreatic cancer and funds raised will go to the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.
Cath met open water swimmer Rebecca Jarre through Facebook when she joined a campaign to allow people to continue swimming in the Sparth reservoir in Marsden, where Cath grew up.
When Cath was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in October last year, just three years after losing her younger brother Gareth to the same disease, she asked Rebecca if she could help raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.
Cath said: “Before I knew it, Rebecca had organised a 24 hour relay swim in Sparth reservoir and was busy recruiting a team of swimmers to take part.
“She’s been a tower of strength and such a good friend – despite never having met me.
“It’s lovely that the event will be in the Sparth, which we fought to keep open to swimmers.
“As children we used to have family picnics there and play and paddle in it with friends and I have some really happy family memories of that time,” Cath added.
The 24-hour fundraiser will start at midday tomorrow and ends at midday on Sunday.
The relay team includes 16 members of the Dove Dippers, an open water swimming group that Rebecca belongs to who were recently featured on BBC’s Countryfile programme.
Each team member will swim between temporary buoys for an hour and those swimming through the night will have experienced ‘spotters’ on the banks with torches and camping lanterns.
Rebecca, 43, of Oldham, said: “Cath is a lovely and remarkable lady and we hit it off straight away on Facebook.
“Her story touched me very deeply and I felt real sadness for her and her family.
“I knew I had to do an event to raise awareness for Cath and the charity. I originally thought of doing the swim myself as I’m known for swimming in zero temperatures for long periods of time.
“However, when I mentioned this to the Dove Dippers they jumped on board to help.”
The Dippers are looking forward to this weekend’s cold water swim and Cath will be cheering them on during the final few hours, despite undergoing a gruelling cycle of chemotherapy.
“I don’t know how long I have left and I’m living my life by making the most of every day,” Cath said.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the fundraising that my both my family and friends have been doing and I can’t wait to finally meet Rebecca in person and give her a big hug to say thank you for all she’s done.
“Raising money for research is so important to me as there is so much we don’t know about this type of cancer,” says Cath.
“My mum has seen two of her children diagnosed with it, and I need to think about the younger generations in my family – my own children and grandchildren – so we have to find answers, even if it’s too late for me.”
The Co-op in Marsden and Morrisons in Meltham have donated gifts for swimmers’ goodie bags.
The team already has over £700 pledged. To donate visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/cath.winterburn
Factfile on pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer is highly aggressive and has the worst survival rate of any common cancer.
Only three out of every 100 people diagnosed will live for five years – and this figure hasn’t improved in 40 years.
Some 8,000 people are diagnosed in the UK every year, and despite being the fifth biggest cause of cancer death, it receives less than 2% of available research funding.
Visit www.pcrf.org.uk for more details about the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.