Bedford’s little swimmers to make a splash for two children’s charities

From March 11 to 17, Bedford’s pint-sized heroes are gearing up to champion the causes of two national charities – Tommy’s and Children’s Alliance.
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During ‘Splashathon’, the little swimmers from Water Babies Bucks & Beds will be conquering the pool one sponsored challenge at a time – no mean feat when you are between 12 weeks and four years old!

With an ‘Oceans of Imagination’ theme, local swimmers hope to collect a sea of donations for parents and families in need.

Taking place in pools across Bedford, including at Trinity Arts & Leisure, children donning their brightest swim gear will take part in age-appropriate challenges – whether it be daring pool dives or front crawl competitions. Regardless of the activity, each one of them will be sponsored for a shared mission – ensuring children everywhere get the best start in life.

Charlie underwaterCharlie underwater
Charlie underwater

“We can’t wait to see so many little swimmers from across Bedford come together to raise money for such incredible causes,” said Tamsin Brewis, Water Babies Bucks & Beds owner.

“During Splashathon every two years, our little swimmers not only make waves in the pool but also create ripples of positive change – even if they aren’t fully aware of it yet! The enthusiasm of the children, coupled with the incredible generosity of their parents, friends, and family, never ceases to amaze me. I can’t wait to see how much we raise this year!”

For years, Splashathon has served as Water Babies’ main fundraising event – dedicated to generating funds for two profoundly impactful charities Tommy’s and the Children’s Alliance. With the support of donations, Tommy’s is empowered to conduct over £2 million worth of ground-breaking research annually into the causes of miscarriage and stillbirth and contribute to enhancing maternity outcomes for families.

Children’s Alliance aims to raise funds for communities nationwide by offering essential resources such as swimming lessons, swimwear, transportation, and surfing lessons and championing various campaigns across the UK.

Anna and son CharlieAnna and son Charlie
Anna and son Charlie

These campaigns include advocating for universal free school meals, enhancing opportunities for free and imaginative play in Early Years, pushing for the presence of a trained emotional health leader in every secondary school, and promoting increased lifelong physical activity.

Funds raised for Children’s Alliance will go to initiatives like The Wave Project, which improves children’s mental health and wellbeing through an award-winning Surf Therapy programme.

Among the success stories is 13-year-old Charlie James-Priddle, the adventurous surfer whose journey has been transformed by the therapeutic waves, thanks to the generous contributions from events like Splashathon.

“Charlie was diagnosed with autism at the age of four,” said Anna James, Charlie’s mum. “After attending a small primary school with one-to-one support, when the time came for him to move on to secondary school, unfortunately, that same level of support wasn’t there. This resulted in a challenging nine-month period where he struggled in a large and noisy environment, hindering his access to lessons.

“During that period, the surfing sessions with The Wave Project couldn’t have come at a better time. Charlie began participating when he was 11, and even though he has completed his course, he continues attending sessions monthly and now owns his own surfboard! The volunteers at The Wave Project have a magical way of making you feel like a superstar. It became Charlie’s weekly highlight, providing a much-needed escape during the challenges of transitioning from primary school.

“I just loved seeing how incredible those volunteers are, taking time to help these kids. The sense of camaraderie and attention they cultivate during the sessions create such a positive and supportive environment for everyone involved. It warmed my heart so much that I decided to become a volunteer myself! Providing a space for other kids to be themselves, unwind from everyday stress and have a blast – just like Charlie did – is incredibly rewarding.”

Anna, having had her two children attend Water Babies and serving as Water Babies’ resident photographer – responsible for capturing over 30,000 portraits of babies in the pool – is well acquainted with the advantages of water-based activities for children.

“Charlie started swimming with Water Babies when he was four months old,” added Anna. “For those familiar with autism, you understand that the learning journey for these children can progress at a slower pace than others. Charlie’s path to becoming a confident swimmer has spanned 10 years, but Water Babies and his time in the water since have been invaluable for his development, coordination and fitness levels. Witnessing his achievements in both swimming and surfing fills me with so much pride.

“I’m particularly grateful for organisations like Children’s Alliance and fundraising events like Splashathon, as they play a pivotal role in making these life-enriching opportunities accessible for more children nationwide.”

For more information about Water Babies Bucks & Beds, visit: www.waterbabies.co.uk/lp/baby-swimming/bucks-and-beds.

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