AN OPEN water challenge has raised almost £20,000 for the League of Friends to the Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen.

The Mere Mile, which was sponsored by Shropshire Pools and Spas Ltd, took place on August Bank Holiday Monday and saw almost 200 swimmers take the plunge and attempt to swim either one mile or 2.5 miles in the Mere at Ellesmere.

The event followed on from the success of last year’s Mere Mile, where more than 100 swimmers took part and raised £8,500 for the benefit of the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH).

James Bainbridge of Swimfinity, was pleased to have been able to help facilitate the event.

He said: “A significant growth in swimmer numbers underlined the continued popularity of open water swimming, and the amount raised for charity shows the high regard people have for our wonderful local hospital.

“We’re already looking forward to 2022, building on the success of the last two years and continuing to support such a worthy cause – the League of Friends.”

A number of staff members from the Gobowen-based hospital also took part in the event including Dr Ruth Longfellow, RJAH’s chief medical officer, who took on the 2.5-mile swim.

She said: “We’re so grateful to our League of Friends for holding fundraising events such as the Mere Mile – they raise valuable funds that directly support frontline staff and patients.

"There was a great atmosphere on the day, and it was a pleasure to be part of something so positive."

More than 40 volunteers also dedicated their time to help with the running of the event, including members of the Borderlands and Ellesmere Rotary Clubs, safety boat crews, along with kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders who took to the water to ensure the swimmers were kept safe throughout.

Victoria Sugden, League of Friends charity director, gave thanks to everyone who took part, volunteered and helped to organised the event.

She said: “The participation in this event and the fundraising we have been able to achieve has been way beyond our expectations.

“Enormous thanks to Swimfinity, Shropshire Pools and Spas, our wonderful swimmers, supporters and volunteers who worked so hard to make this event successful.”