A GRANDAD and his granddaughter are hoping to raise a pool full of cash for Hope House Children’s Hospices by going for a dip in Lake Windermere.

Proud granddad, Kevin Hughes, 60, of Gwernymynydd and Imogen, eight, of Connah’s Quay are tackling June’s Great North Swim and are hoping to freestyle their way to giving Hope House a big cash bonus.

Kevin, a Flintshire County Councillor, says he’s taking on the mile event while Imogen, a pupil of Golftyn Primary School, is restricted to the 250 meter event due to her young age.

He said: “I wish the distances were reversed to be honest. Imogen is a member of Connah’s Quay Swimming Club and trains up to three times a week. She’s in the skills squad and working up to competing when she’s nine.

“She swims almost a mile each training session and could no doubt leave me in her wake if she could do the mile event.

“I’ll just have to do it and then go back in and do the 250 meter event with Imogen as she has to have an adult swim alongside her.

“I’m incredibly proud of her as are her mum, Leah, dad Andy, nan, Sally and the rest of her family. She’s already made it quite plain she’s not prepared to hang about waiting for me if I can’t keep up!”

He added: “This is the sixth time I’ve entered one of the Great Swim series, I’ve done Manchester, in Salford Quays, several times and last year I did the London event in the Victoria Dock.

“Let’s just say some of the wildlife I’ve seen in those venues is interesting so Lake Windermere’s swans and ducks will be a welcome change.

“I’ve always tried to support Hope House Children’s Hospices. The work they do is remarkable and it’s such a happy, positive place where amazing care is given.”

Mike Lewis, who chairs Connah’s Quay Swimming Club and also coaches Imogen, says he’s delighted to see she is tackling a challenge that’s very different to swimming in the Cambrian Aquatic Sports Centre pool in Connah’s Quay.

He said: “It will be very different, the water, even in June, will be much colder and that can affect breathing and as its open water it could be a little bit choppy.

“However, Imogen is doing really well. She completed all her waves and we invited her to join the club toward the end of last year. At the moment we are concentrating on technique and getting each stroke absolutely right.

“Only when I’m happy will she move up to the next group and that’s when we will concentrate on adding the speed and stamina she will need for competition swimming.”

He added: “We are all delighted Imogen is putting her swimming skills to such good use and, along with her granddad, is raising funds for such a good cause.”

Connah’s Quay Swimming Club head coach, Sharon Thompson, added: “Well done Imogen! She should be really proud.

“Imogen works very hard and is progressing very well. But there is a really serious point to make about open water swimming.

“The Great North Swim is a properly organised event and safety is of paramount importance.

“Please don’t go open water swimming in the summer months unless it is as part of a properly organised event. If you want to learn to swim properly come down to Cambrian Aquatic Sports Centre and talk to anyone from the club.”

She added: “We have 78 swimming members aged from eight up to 26. We coach swimmers to competition level.

“However, competing isn’t for everyone but there are opportunities for swimmers and non-swimmers of all levels at the Cambrian Aquatics pool, just call in for details.”

Hope House Children’s Hospices Area Fundraiser, Nicola Sciarrillo, says she’s delighted Imogen and her granddad have chosen to support Hope House as they take part in the Great North Swim.

She said: “We need to raise in excess of £6 million a year to support all the children and families we help from across North Wales, Shropshire and parts of Cheshire.

“It’s so sad three children die each week in our area from disease and incurable illness but we can only afford to reach and help one of those children.

“That’s why it’s so important we have as much help as possible from communities and businesses across the region.”

She added: “Kevin has supported Hope House in the past and has already raised more than £1,000 from previous swimming events. It’s amazing that Imogen, who is only eight, is joining her granddad in the water.

“She’s clearly a talented swimmer and I’m so pleased she is supporting Hope House Children’s Hospices and the work we do.”

To support Imogen and Kevin and to make a donation please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/walrus-tadpole

To find out more about Hope House Children’s Hospices please visit www.hopehouse.org.uk

To find out more about Connah’s Quay Swimming Club please visit www.cqasc.co.uk