Swimmer from Wigan makes charity waves

Jane Holgate's swimming challenge
Jane Holgate's swimming challenge

A keen swimmer made a real splash when she raised charity cash money in honour of her Wigan father.

Jane Holgate, 56, set herself the exhausting challenge of swimming 1,500km in the space of a year and collecting donations for the Alzheimer’s Society.

She was inspired by the plight of her father Gerard Holgate, from Marus Bridge, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia 10 years ago after he started becoming forgetful.

The 83-year-old was cared for by wife Anne before his condition deteriorated and he moved into Dean Wood Manor Care Home in Orrell where he is still a resident.

Jane, who grew up in Marus Bridge and now lives in London, said: "It’s very distressing when someone you love and care for and have known all your life is suddenly no longer able to communicate with you in the way they once were.

"A little while ago he forgot who I was, which was very upsetting."

The family has been supported by the Alzheimer’s Society in Wigan, which provided help and advice about how the disease would progress, went to meetings with them and helped to find the right care home.

Jane was so grateful for its assistance that she wanted to do something to help the charity.

She said: "I have always been a swimmer but this spurred me on to do a little bit more.

"It was quite a challenge to swim 1,500km in a year. It was an average of four kilometres a day."

Jane, who works as a professor of work and employment relations at Leeds University, swam every day last year, either indoors or outdoors.

Most of her swims were in the UK, but she also took the plunge while in the USA, Greece and Portugal.

She said: "I kept track of it every day so I knew exactly how far I had done."

Jane said she was "ecstatic" to swim her 1,500th kilometre on December 18 - her 56th birthday - and celebrated with cake.

She did not stop there though, completing another 31km before the end of the year.

Her efforts raised £1,518, made up of £1,218 donated to the Alzheimer’s Society via an online fund-raising page and £300 given directly to Wigan Alzheimer’s Society.

Jane said "I thought it would be nice to match £1 for one kilometre so £1,500 was my target."

However, it is still possible to make donations online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jane-holgate2.