29 Nov 2017

Plunging into the deep: Swimming the equivalent of the English Channel for Pancreatic Cancer UK

Hamish Blair swimming

Diving into a fundraising challenge of a lifetime during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, is 35 year-old Hamish Blair, who’ll be fundraising for Pancreatic Cancer UK this November.

Hamish’s dad lost his battle with the disease at only 56 years of age, and in his memory, Hamish has chosen to fundraise for the charity by swimming 24 kilometres - the length of the English Channel. But rather than taking to the coast, Hamish will be churning through the water in his local lido in Brockwell. He’s aiming to raise £5,000 and you can follow his progress across social media using #swimforlifepcuk.

Hamish said: “Pancreatic cancer is the fourth largest cancer killer in the UK and it is predicted to overtake breast cancer by 2030 but, through my own loss, I’ve learnt how little is known about the disease and how much more needs to be done to save lives. We have seen the impact successful breast cancer campaigns have had on funding, better diagnosis, treatment and care for those affected. Shockingly, only 4% of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer live for 5 years or more and, worryingly, this percentage has not improved since the 1970’s.

“My dad loved life and all it had to offer. After being diagnosed, doctors gave him four months to live, but he battled with the disease for 16 months. My dad’s zest for life and determination underscores why I’ve felt compelled to put myself to the test by swimming this distance.

So to raise awareness and funds, over the course of four days, Hamish will swim the intimidating 24km in freezing waters in South London. “The number ‘24’ is particularly significant,” Hamish added. “Every year 24 people die from pancreatic cancer, partly because it is one of the most difficult forms of cancer to detect but also, and partly as a result of late prognosis, the survival rate is very low.

“Pancreatic Cancer UK is the only national charity fighting the disease on all fronts - offering support and information, campaigning on behalf of both patients and families while funding crucial research into the disease."

When setting his fundraising target, Hamish wanted to raise an amount he felt would really help Pancreatic Cancer UK to make a difference. “I know that this amount of money would have a positive impact on a number of necessary activities: £100 funds five hours of nursing support on the charity’s dedicated, specialist phone line while £5,000 would fund their online forum for a whole year. My mother found it invaluable to talk to people who have experienced the same loss that she has, so I want to fund something that can offer the same sort of comfort and support she received.”

In preparation for the challenge, Hamish has put himself on a specific fitness regime and is using the power of social media to share updates on his training and engage with donors. He’s also very grateful to the fundraising support Pancreatic Cancer UK has provided.

“From the moment the charity knew of my plans it has been in regular contact with me, offering suggestions of what I can do, how I can expand the reach of my campaign and sending me materials to help me raise the profile of my fundraising activity. I think some of the employees are even coming down to the pool to cheer me on, which is fantastic!”

Hamish chose MyDonate because it doesn’t charge commission fees. “I chose MyDonate because I researched which online giving platforms passed on the most money to charities and MyDonate came out top. It doesn’t charge commission on money raised so more money will go to Pancreatic Cancer UK. After all, the whole point of fundraising is to raise money for a charity that matters to you personally and for a cause you care about.”

If you would like to support Hamish please visit his fundraising page at https://www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/swimforlife

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