Firefighters take the plunge to swim with Nessie

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BRAVE firefighters will be warming up in Morpeth for a bracing fund-raising swim.

Three firefighters and one member of Northumberland County Council’s emergency planning department will be taking part in a Loch Ness swimming relay later this month in aid of The Firefighters’ Charity and Wansbeck Special Care Baby Unit.

The 24-mile swim, which is expected to take between 12 and 14 hours, will see the team brave temperatures of around 11 degrees Celsius, with each of the participants crossing in relay and spending an hour in the water at a time.

To prepare for the event West Hartford Community Fire Station Watch Manager Andy Davison, Station Manager North Andy Railton, firefighter Susanne Wright and emergency planner David Wheatley will take to the pool at Morpeth’s Riverside Leisure Centre this weekend.

The centre has lent a lane of its pool on Saturday for the team to complete a four-hour endurance training session, and members hope the warm-up will also kick-start their fund-raising efforts.

Mr Davison said: “Morpeth Leisure Centre has kindly donated a lane in the pool for the day. This will give us an opportunity to train for at least four hours and we are also hoping people will sponsor us for this as a swimathon to help get a head start on our fund-raising before we attempt Loch Ness.”

Mr Davison swam the English Channel in 1997 and the perimeter of Jersey as part of a relay team in 1999, while Mr Wheatley regularly competes in triathlons, but the other two team members are trying an open swim for the first time.

They have been training at Druridge Bay lake, in the North Sea and at Ashington’s Queen Elizabeth II Country Park lake.

The Loch Ness event will take place on Tuesday, September 20, when the team will be helped by six colleagues responsible for fund-raising, driving and organising food and drinks. The Highlands and Islands Fire Service has provided accommodation at fire stations in Fort Augustus and Inverness.

Northumberland Acting Chief Fire Officer Alex Bennett said: “This is a huge challenge, but one that I’m sure the team are well prepared to tackle.

“I hope they are well supported in their fund-raising efforts for two very worthwhile causes.”

To sponsor the team email andy.davison@northumberland.gov.uk