Diane Swim
Image Source: Rob Finney
(l-r) Max Swan, Karen Trainer (Big Venture Centre Manager), Madison Mitchel, Becca Shepard (Facilitator), Sharyah Bernard and David Chadwick (Volunteer), with Diane Lewis (front)
Russ Cockburn

Member Article

Diane dives into charity swim to help the Big Venture Centre

A kind-hearted volunteer is making a splash to help raise much-needed funds for the Big Venture Centre in Wolverhampton.

Diane Lewis, who was born in East London but is now an adopted Black Country girl, is attempting to swim the length of the Catalina Strait - twice - in just 48 days.

The 55-year-old is swimming 40 lengths, five times per week to hit her marathon target of swimming over 41 miles and the good news is the community is backing her with over 75% of the £1000 target already reached.

She has swapped the Catalina Channel between Santa Catalina Island and Southern California for Bentley Bridge Leisure Centre, but is still determined to smash both the mileage and the fundraising total.

“The Big Venture Centre does so much good for the people of WV10 in Wolverhampton, but, like many organisations, has been hit hard by Covid-19,” explained Diane, who quotes volunteering as giving her a second chance in life.

“I wanted to do my own little bit to help generate some cash so thought I’ll ramp up the swimming a little and, before I knew it, I’d committed to swimming the famous Catalina Strait. It was supposed to be just once to start with, however, progress was going really well so I thought I might as well swim back.”

She continued: “It’s about 2654 lengths of the pool, a fair distance. Everyone has been really supportive, and I can’t thank the community enough for raising over £750 already. The big question is, can we get it to £1000?”

The Queen’s Award-winning Big Venture Centre, which is part of the WV10 Consortium, was created by local people in 2017 in response to the Scotlands Adventure Playground closing.

Since then, the centre has been transformed into a community hub with its 10-strong army of volunteers meeting the challenges of Covid-19 head-on by transforming the usual coffee shop, hall and gardens into a distribution centre where food parcels and activities were put together and delivered to those in need in the WV10 area of Wolverhampton.

They also provided one-to-one telephone befriending and counselling, shopping for those that were isolating, topping up electricity and gas meters and providing items of bedding through the Winter Warmth programme.

Now the attention has tuned on getting safely back to normal, with lots of activities for children in place for the school holiday.

Karen Trainer, Volunteer Centre Manager at Big Venture Centre, added her support: “Diane is one of our best volunteers and a true inspiration. She’s also a bit mad and this is being summed up by this fantastic challenge.

“The money she raises will all go directly into funding the work that we do in WV10, ensuring we support as many people as possible.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Russ Cockburn .

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