On 3rd September, RAF man Ian Smith plunged into the cold depths of Loch Ness to raise money for Ovarian Cancer Action, swimming an incredible 22 miles to complete the length of the loch.
Ian was inspired to take on this formidable challenge following the loss of his mother, Kathleen, to ovarian cancer in February this year. Kathleen experienced the common symptom of bloating, as well as feeling like she needed a new hip. Sadly it took six months of visits to the doctor before they finally found the true cause, and she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in July 2015. Although Kathleen received excellent care from the Christie Hospital in Manchester, the time it took to get a diagnosis shocked Kathleen’s family.
Ian and his sister Alison were determined to do something to help fund research and raise awareness of the disease and the pair kicked off their fundraising efforts by taking part in Walk In Her Name in 2016, hiking from Aviemore to Spey Bay and raising over £1,300. Originally from Wigan, Ian moved up to Scotland fifteen years ago, soon followed by Alison, and Lossiemouth became a favourite destination for the whole family.
Ian’s achievement is all the more impressive considering the fact he describes himself as, “At best, an average swimmer and morbidly phobic of deep, dark, murky water.” He added, “The plan was to do something that (in a very, very small way) reflects a fraction of the loneliness and fear that terminal cancer patients must go through.”
Facing his fears, and fervently hoping that Nessie wouldn’t be making an appearance, Ian set off before sunrise with brother-in-law, Tim Long, and friend, James Lambert, alongside him in a support boat. Thirteen hours later, he finally reached the north end of the loch, where he was met by his relieved wife, daughter and sister.
Originally setting himself a modest target of £750, support for Ian has been overwhelming and to date he has raised over £3,300 for Ovarian Cancer Action!