Kirsty Hutchins will swim her first ever open water swimming event on Saturday, 21 September, when she takes on the two-mile swim at Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine, raising money for the headline charity.
The mum of three, from Gillingham in Dorset, had never swum in open water until training for Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine began and, after a shaky start, she has loved the experience.
She says: “The first time in open water… I was terrified, almost crying, but once I was in and swimming I loved it. My son has been swimming many miles with me too.”
She will be swimming as part of Team Torri, a group of friends all swimming for nine-year-old Torri, daughter of their friends Natalie and Simon. Torri was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in April 2018, days before her eighth birthday.
Kirsty explains: “Our families have been very good friends for many years. When I ran the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon, lots of my friends and family came to watch and support me including my dear friend Natalie. She has two daughters, Alexsi, 11, and Torri, nine, and she decided to leave them at home as Torri wasn’t feeling 100 per cent.”
After being too ill to take part in her usual dance class, Natalie took Torri to the doctor and what followed was every parent’s worst nightmare. Torri was admitted to Southampton General Hospital and diagnosed with ALL. Following her diagnosis, Torri spent two months in hospital undergoing treatment, including chemotherapy, lumber punctures, bone marrow tests, MRI scans and x-rays. She was eventually allowed home at the end of June 2018.
Today, Torri continues to fight the disease with determination, and although still unwell, has inspired her parents and their friends to take on a variety of sporting events to raise money and awareness for Children with Cancer UK. So far they have raised a staggering £50,000 for the charity.
“I made the decision to fundraise standing outside Torri’s room on the Piam Brown Ward at the hospital while she was having some tests,” says Kirsty. “I decided to do the Virgin Money London Marathon again [in 2019] and that’s when Team Torri was created.”
She says: “Children with Cancer UK is an incredible charity and their support is exceptional. The only motivation you need [to take part] is knowing that what you are doing is going to help so many families stay together. You will help to raise vital funds for research into finding a cure.”
All of Team Torri will be hoping to complete Swim Serpentine as they chase their London Classics medal as part of the ultimate mass participation challenge. The team completed the Virgin Money London Marathon on 28 April and will swim two miles at Swim Serpentine on Saturday, before they complete the challenge at next year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100.
“We [Team Torri] are going for the London Classics and we have all signed up for Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 in 2020. Torri should be finishing her treatment and seeing the back of cancer in September 2020 so Team Torri have promised to continue with all our events and fundraising until that day comes.”