LIGHTCLIFFE man Steve Sutcliffe battled rain and wind to complete four open-air swims this summer in memory of a schoolfriend who died of meningitis at the age of 12.
He will complete the last swim of five at Strathclyde Water on Saturday, August 25 - and is hoping that, for once, the water will be calm and warm.
“It hasn’t been the best summer to tackle five swims and a couple of them have had to be postponed because of the weather but, despite that, I’ve enjoyed it,” said Steve who has already raised about £2,500 for the Meningitis Trust.
Steve is trying to raise as much money as possible to mark the 30th anniversary of the death from meningitis of Kate Lever.
Kate and Steve were friends at Bailiff Bridge Primary School and Brighouse Swimming Club.
Kate was in her first year at Brighouse Girls’ Grammar School when she died in November 1982 and Steve was a student at Hipperholme Grammar School.
His swims were a mile on the Thames in May, two miles on Alton Water in Suffolk and two miles on Lake Windermere in June and a mile at Salford Quays in July.
“The swim on Windermere was put back for two days because of the weather and it was still windy and choppy on the day I did it but the scenery was so beautiful that it was probably the swim I enjoyed the most,” said Steve, aged 40.
Steve is a keen and experienced swimmer but said open-water swimming was very different to training in a pool.
“I am pleased with my times - I did both one mile swims in under 30 minutes and the two mile swims in about 1hr 5 mins.”
A finance director, Steve is taking part in the British Gas Great British Swims.
“Those who knew Kate from school have very fond memories of her. None of us knew much about meningitis at the time and for such a healthy girl to die at such a young age was a huge shock.”
Kate’s sister, Janette Lever-Smith, and Steve are joint organisers of a reunion for Bailiff Bridge school pupils from the 1975-1985 era.
A disco will be held at Bailiff Bridge Community Centre on Saturday, September 29, with all proceeds from the sale of tickets going to the Meningitis Trust.
Tickets are available at £10 each from Janette@avocet-dyes.co.uk