Jessica, eight, swims length of Channel in memory of neighbour

Salisbury Journal: Jessica Soulsby with her proud family and Collette Fear from the Army Swimming Team Jessica Soulsby with her proud family and Collette Fear from the Army Swimming Team

AN eight-year-old girl has swum the length of the Channel in memory of her neighbour, and raised a whopping £1,600.

Jessica Soulsby from Larkhill, who loves swimming and had previously completed a challenge to swim 100 lengths, decided she wanted to set herself a challenge to swim from Dover to Calais, but her parents said she couldn’t do it in the sea.

Instead, they worked out how many swimming pool lengths it would be, and over the last four months Jessica has swum 1,344 lengths, completing the final 32 in 25 mins 15 secs in front of a crowd of supporters at Five Rivers Leisure Centre.

Jessica wanted to raise money for SUDEP Action in memory of her neighbour Charlie Burns. Charlie was just ten when he died from sudden unexplained death of epilepsy in October 2011 and his parents Barrie and Jan and sister Izzie have been campaigning to raise awareness and funds since the inquest revealed the cause.

Jessica, who goes to Charlie’s former school, Larkhill Primary, initially set a target of £300 but the support kept flooding in and she has now raised a huge £1,600, with money still coming in.

Her mother Nikki said: “We’re so proud of her, she’s done so well. We lost my dad in October and even with that she still carried on. She’s a very courageous little girl.”

She said Jessica is already thinking about what she wants her next challenge to be and is very excited that she earned a Blue Peter badge.

The Burns family said: “Jessica is a true inspiration to others and her challenge was no mean feat to any adult, let alone a child of eight. We know that the money and awareness will certainly go a long way towards our campaign to make all parents aware of SUDEP.

“We would like to thank all of our supporters and wish them a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

Collette Fear, British Army 100m and 200m breaststroke champion, who is based at 32 Regt RA in Larkhill, accompanied Jessica on the final swim of her challenge.

Anyone who wants to donate can still do so at justgiving.com/Jessica- Soulsby/2.

Comments (1)

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10:03am Sat 28 Dec 13

Barton Stacey says...

Great achievement by Jessica.

But being pedantic, not so good by the reporter. It was the width of the Channel, not the length.
Great achievement by Jessica. But being pedantic, not so good by the reporter. It was the width of the Channel, not the length. Barton Stacey

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