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Sussex gran makes a splash for good cause
A grandmother is swimming the equivalent of the Channel in her local swimming pool to raise funds for a head injuries charity in memory of her murdered son.
Judy Tilbury is swimming a sponsored endurance challenge at her leisure centre to raise money for Headway Hurstwood Park Company.
Her 24-year-old son Mathew spent the last nine days of his life being treated by neurosurgeons who battled to save him after he was attacked with a baseball bat.
Mrs Tilbury, of Farnham Avenue, Hassocks, has already completed 1,455 lengths in the pool – the equivalent of swimming Loch Ness – and is now halfway through her challenge to swim 1,642 lengths which would be the equivalent of swimming the Channel.
The feat is all the more remarkable because Mrs Tilbury only learned to swim four years ago, at the age of 69.
When she was nine, she almost drowned off the coast of Brighton and was saved by her brother after going under the water twice.
Shaken by the incident, she never returned to the water until a family holiday in Canada convinced her she was missing out by not swimming.
The grandmother is a regular visitor to the swimming pool at the Triangle Leisure Centre in Triangle Way, Burgess Hill, and has been knocking off her target by swimming up to 64 lengths, the equivalent of a mile, up to three times a week.
Last week she passed the1,000 length mark and has already raised £300 for Headway Hurstwood Park Company.
She first came into contact with Headway after her son Mathew was treated there after he tried to stop a fight escalating at a tip in Sheepcote Valley, Brighton, in 1996.
During the row he was hit over the head with a baseball bat. He died days later.
Her husband Roy also had treatment at Hurstwood Park for a brain tumour before he died three years ago.
She said: “I know the pair of them will be looking over me and I know my husband would be so proud of me.
“I just took to swimming when I started learning.
“My coach told me that I was a natural and if I had been swimming as a child I probably would have been a champion.”
To donate, sign a sponsor sheet at the leisure centre or visit www.justgiving.com/headwayhp.
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