A north London grandmother has channelled her energy into fundraising for Camp Simcha by swimming the distance between England and France at her local pool.
Anna Churnin, 67, has swum the equivalent of the Channel Crossing at Copthall Leisure Centre in Mill Hill over the past four months.
Camp Simcha, which helps families with seriously ill children, has been supporting Anna’s granddaughter Chloe and her family since she underwent life-saving surgery shortly after her birth in December 2020.
Chloe, who has Down’s Syndrome, had the surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) after doctors diagnosed a rare condition called congenital long segmented tracheal stenosis, which causes serious breathing difficulties.
Her traumatic start in life was made even tougher by restrictions imposed during the second Covid-19 lockdown.
Anna, who lives in Edgware and is a member of the United Synagogue there, said of son Neil and daughter-in-law Kate: “I don’t know how they would have done it without Camp Simcha’s support, especially in those early weeks.
“It was lockdown and we couldn’t see them to help. One was always at the hospital and the other was home with their son.”
Chloe’s father contacted Camp Simcha after learning of them from the hospital. Anna recalled: “He contacted them at eight the morning and by 10am Camp Simcha had swung into action.”
The family were taken aback by the “myriad” ways in which Camp Simcha has supported them, said Anna.
Camp Simcha provided transport between GOSH and the family home, hot meals, counselling and even ‘date nights’ to provide some respite for Kate, who works in early years education, and Neil, Chloe’s full-time carer.
Their son Alfie, four, has also benefited from art therapy and other activities and entertainment.
Though Chloe is still being monitored, she is thriving. “Her spirit and her determination is amazing,” said her proud Nana.
Anna, who previously worked in the special needs department at JFS, said she calculated that it would take 2,112 lengths to cover the distance between England and France.
She added: “I’m not a fast swimmer, but I’m steady.
“It’s been great for me, I’ve raised almost £2,300 and I’ve told a lot of people at the pool what I’m doing so I’ve publicised Camp Simcha – it’s been a win-win all round.”
Last year Anna raised around £2,000 for Camp Simcha with a coffee morning. So what’s next?
“I’ve got to think of something a bit different so I will wait for inspiration to strike!” she said.
To sponsor Anna visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/anna-churnin