TWO nurses are braving the cold with a sea swim equivalent to crossing the English Channel to raise funds for a virtual day centre for terminally ill patients during lockdown.
Clinical nurse specialist Rachel Easton and staff nurse Holly Warren support people with life-limiting conditions at the Macmillan Unit Palliative Day Centre in Christchurch.
However, the centre is currently closed and many of its clients are shielding at home, with little outside contact.
The pair set themselves the challenge of swimming a total of 34km – the closest distance between England and France – to fundraise for Macmillan Caring Locally charity, which has helped them set up online services for their patients.
Since 19th October, Rachel and Holly have been swimming a kilometre every day between Boscombe and Bournemouth piers, enduring rough seas.
“We are actively adapting our service so that patients can still get together from their homes using video conferencing,” said Holly (37).
“This week we provided our first three online sessions involving yoga and quizzes and our clients were so grateful for the chance to interact with us and others.
“We also hope to employ a range of therapists to widen the range of sessions we can provide and also buy materials so people can take part in online practical sessions at home.”
Rachel (43) said: “Holly and I both took part in the Macmillan White Christmas Dip at Boscombe last year, dressed as penguins, and really enjoyed it.
“Obviously this is very different to a one-off sea plunge. Each day for over a month we are getting changed on a beach, with numb fingers, sometimes in the rain and then swimming in the cold sea.
“This week we have also had quite large waves to contend with, but there have been some high points, such as swimming under the stars. Thanks to the huge support we are getting – and a great deal of hot tea – we are actually enjoying it.”
Neal Williams, trust secretary of Macmillan Caring Locally, said: “Rachel and Holly are outstanding medical professionals who provide a lifeline for their patients.
“The fact that they are also willing to jump into the freezing sea to raise funds to support them is simply wonderful.”
To sponsor Holly and Rachel, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rachel-holly-palliative-nurses