A group of six friends will be battling chilly toes, tight wetsuits and the flailing limbs of other swimmers for a great cause this June as they take part in Europe’s biggest open water swim series to raise money for charity.

Sarah Ernst, her partner, Sam Brown, Will and Sharon Wilkinson and David and Judy Brown are taking part in the Great North Swim to fundraise for Dimbleby Cancer Care, whose services Sarah used when she was diagnosed with cancer last June. Sarah used the charity’s complementary therapy services while undergoing treatment at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital.

Sarah, 31, from Bethnal Green in London said: “I discovered a lump on my neck last year and after a series of tests I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. Luckily it was caught at a relatively early stage and is considered one of the most treatable forms of cancer. I started my chemotherapy in August followed by radiotherapy the following January. Mid way through I decided to register for the Challenge to give me something to aim for.

“During my treatment I heard about Dimbleby Cancer Care and was really grateful to receive a number of massage and reflexology session. The sessions helped me get rid of some of the tension I’d been carrying around in my shoulders since I was diagnosed and I came out of them feeling recharged. I decided to raise funds as a way of saying thank you to everyone at the charity who have been there for me. We are hoping to raise £600 towards their wonderful work, but have already raised over £750 so far!”.

The Great North Swim is Europe’s biggest open water swimming event with around 10,000 participants. Over three days, participants of all abilities take the plunge in stunning Windermere over a range of distance. The team is aiming to swim a mile each. The event takes place on 11th June.

This year marks the charity’s 50th anniversary, having been set up in 1966 in memory of broadcaster Richard Dimbleby and is based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals in London. It provides practical and psychological support to people living with cancer and to their families and carers.

All the money raised will go towards the charity’s ‘Care for the Future’ appeal, which aims to raise £500,000 by the end of 2016 so that it can continue and expand its work within the cancer community.

Robin Pritchard, Director for Dimbleby Cancer Care added: “It’s great to hear just what an impact our services can make to people like Sarah who are going through treatment. Relieving pain, stress and tension can really make a difference to someone’s wellbeing, which in turn can help their recovery. This is why our work is so important. Good luck to the team, I don’t envy them, as I imagine the water will be rather cold!”.

To support the team click here.