Wigan schoolboys take on challenges to raise money in memory of tragic toddler
Two caring schoolboys have been getting active to raise money so other youngsters can learn how to stay safe in water.
Six-year-old Jenson Jones completed a sponsored bike ride to raise money for Hindley Green-based charity DoIt4Loui, while Bear Hopwood, five, challenged himself to swim a mile.
It was set up in memory of toddler Loui Aspinall, from Hindley Green, who was just two when drowned while on holiday in 2013.
Jenson attends lessons run by the charity and his parents are good friends with its founders, Loui’s parents Emma and Gavin Aspinall.
He set himself a challenge of cycling 15 miles and was joined by his dad Danny, grandad Graham and Loui’s grandparents Tim and Anne Aspinall.
Jenson’s mum Jenna, from Hindley Green, said: “He was only supposed to be doing 15 miles but did just over 16. He did it in memory of Loui. He went to Wigan and around the area and back home.
“He loved it, absolutely loved it.
“Normally he does about six miles on a bike ride, so he’s done over double that which is great. I’m very proud of him.”
Jenson, a pupil at St John’s CE Primary School in Hindley Green, did not meet Loui, but knows all about him and why he was doing the ride.
He collected £270 in sponsorship for the charity, which is now closing in on its £20,000 goal in a crowdfunding appeal.
Sport England pledged to give £10,000 if DoIt4Loui could raise the same amount and the money will be used to provide Float To Live courses for more youngsters, to prevent them drowning if they are in water.
More than 250 youngsters have received lessons from the charity since 2017, learning essential skills and developing their confidence in the water, and it is hoped a new instructor can be secured to meet the demand for places.
The money will also help the charity to recover from months of being out of the pool due to the coronavirus pandemic and the costs of reopening and operating in a Covid-secure way to keep everyone safe.
Donors to the crowdfunding appeal can receive rewards including milk delivery, blow dry and hair mask, personal training sessions and membership to a slimming group, depending on how much money they give.
Children who have had lessons with DoIt4Loui have played a key part in the fund-raising, with efforts including a two-year-old girl who did a sponsored walk at Ingleton Falls at the weekend.
Emma said: “It’s the children who come to me for swimming lessons who are going out there to raise money.”
Bear has loved being in the pool since he did an infant swim survival course at the age of two with DoIt4Loui.
Bear, who lives in Leigh, set himself the challenge of swimming a mile - 66 lengths of a 25m pool - and was sponsored to do it.
His mum Louise said: “Emma was telling me about the fund-raiser and we wondered what we could do to give something back, because she has given him a fantastic skill.
“We realised he is fantastic at swimming and because it’s all about swimming, we spoke to him about the challenge.”
Bear broke the mile swim into shorter segments and completed the distance in a total of three-and-a-half hours.
Louise said: “He is absolutely loving it. It’s hard to keep him on track sometimes because he wants to play, but he’s dead proud that he’s doing it for charity.”
Family and friends have so far donated £400 to support Bear, a pupil at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Leigh.
His three-year-old brother Bertie has been having lessons with DoIt4Loui and it is hoped more children will learn how to stay safe thanks to the fund-raising.
Emma said she was “really proud” of Bear for his fund-raising efforts.
“He’s an amazing little swimmer for his age. He came to me with no skills whatsoever and he is so good now,” she said.
Sponsor Bear at www.gofundme.com/f/bear-to-swim-1-mile-for-doit4loui
Donations to the DoIt4Loui appeal can be made at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/doit4loui---prevention-of-child-drowning