GREATER Manchester sisters Millie and Sophie were joined by their swimming club pals to swim 200 miles raising money for the children’s hospice that cared for their little brother.
The sisters, from Atherton, joined the charity swim – the distance from Manchester to Wembley Stadium in London – to help raise £1,000 for Derian House Children’s Hospice.
Millie, 10, and Sophie, nine, were two of the 70 swimmers from Howe Bridge Aces amateur swim club who completed the gruelling challenge in memory of four-year-old Link Simpson who died in April last year from a rare type of soft tissue cancer called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS).
Link laid at rest in a cold bedroom, known as a Sunflower Suite, at his local children’s hospice, Derian House in Chorley, Lancashire, where family were able to visit, giving them more time to say goodbye.
Derian House has been a pillar of support for Link’s family, who continue to be supported by the hospice.
Millie Simpson, who turns 11 this month, said: “I love swimming. I enjoy being under the still, calm waters, it’s a way to escape. The challenge was exhilarating but exhausting. My main focus was Link, I had to do this for him. He helped me to keep going. Derian House has really helped me in the past 18 months since Link’s passing. They’ve really helped me to boost my confidence up. They’ve helped me to get back into school and focus on what I enjoy the most; swimming.”
Sophie Simpson, nine, said: “I enjoy swimming under the water, it feels so calm, quiet and peaceful. Freestyle is my favourite stroke because I am really fast in that one. Danni’s Club at Derian keeps me busy and focused on fun things. I still get upset sometimes when things remind me of Link, but Derian House has helped me. It means a lot to me.”
Mum Clare Simpson said: “The girls are such an amazing inspiration and keep me going every day. They remember how Link loved life. They smile because he did. They swim because he loved water and wanted so much to swim like they do. Derian House supported us when Link passed away. They gave us the opportunity to say goodbye to him in our own unique way. And without funds raised in events like this one, Derian House wouldn’t be able to do what they do for families like ours.”
Chad Northcott, Chairman of the Howe Bridge Aces Amateur Swimming Club and organiser of the event, said: “Millie and Sophie are two of our club swimmers and Link would almost certainly have been too. It made perfect sense to support Derian House. I myself have visited the hospice in the past and know of the invaluable service and love it provides.”
Ann-Marie Fishwick, Community Fundraiser at Derian House, said: “Thank you so much to the Howe Bridge Aces Amateur Swimming Club for organising the huge swim! What a lovely way for Link’s family and friends to celebrate his life while also raising money for other Derian House families.
“It will cost us £6 million to run services at Derian House in 2023, so we rely heavily on the generosity of our incredible supporters like this.”
Based in Chorley, the hospice cares for more than 400 babies, children, young people and their families from across the North West and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Find out more: https://www.derianhouse.co.uk
To donate to the Howe Bridge Aces swim in memory of Link, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/page/howe-bridge-aces