A Buckingham nursery worker is preparing to swim The English Channel, in aid of the Children’s Air Ambulance charity.
Melissa Hepden, who works at Field House Day Nursery in Tingewick Road, is part of a four-member team from the Newport Pagnell-based nursery group who are on a mission to swim from Dover to the French coast and raise cash for charity.
Melissa and her colleagues have braved freezing temperatures, night swims off Dover, high winds and torrential rain, and even digested small jellyfish, known as sea gooseberries, during winter-long training sessions.
Melissa said: “I love the challenge but I am not looking forward to the seasickness on the boat or the allotted 1am start. I am fine in the water.”
Nursery children, parents and staff have been helping Melissa to acclimatise to cold water temperatures by throwing buckets of water over her in the nursery car park and donating to the charity.
Melissa said: “The children are getting used to seeing me in my swimming costume, which is an invitation to throw wet sponges and water at me.
“They love it and they are learning at the same time.
“At Field House, we believe it very important that we set an example for the children.
“We are teaching them that exercise is not only fun and good for you but also a great way of to help others less fortunate than us.”
A keen swimmer in her younger days, Mellissa’s training schedule has included training sessions in the gym and swimming sessions in Box End Park Lake, in Kempston, and off the Dover coast.
The Children’s Air Ambulance charity has just one helicopter responding to medical emergencies for babies and children inthe UK and is funded entirely by donations.