A group of sea swimmers are doing a virtual swim around the Island to raise money for the East Cowes Esplanade and Landslip Community Project.
The Esplanade at East Cowes has suffered two landslips in the last six years. The most recent in 2018 resulted in the Isle of Wight Council putting up Heras fencing along a significant section of the Esplanade, which significantly reduced the space on the sea front.
Last week, the IW Observer reported that the community project had raised £10,000 in just a week from local donations towards the estimated £30,000 it will cost to complete the scheme.
And they are being backed by a group of hardy locals, including one who is 80-years-old, who take a daily plunge in all types of weather.
The Shrape Swimmers are named after the breakwater at East Cowes and member, David Hill, explained: “There are around nine of us, including Pat Murphy who turned 80 last year, and we got together last summer almost by accident.
“It started off with just one or two of us and grew from there. The weather was great last year and it gave us the incentive to carry on.
“We buddy up, so we swim in pairs for safety and go into the water in shifts, two at a time.
“As the months have progressed and we have had further lockdowns, it’s been our saving grace. It’s been a real lifeline for us and given us something to focus on each day, although people think we are mad!
“Our little group, which is open to anyone, has been a gift to us all in so many ways. We have set up real bonds between us and we have a Whatsapp group so we can chat with each other at any time. It’s our own support network.
“We are raising money for the East Cowes Esplanade as we use the sea front every day. It is important that the sea front is used and cherished by local people and we take such pride in it.
“Sharon Lake is behind the project and she has inspired the community during a pandemic which has shown us all how fragile life is. We have raised more than £500 so far and want to make our contribution in our own unique way.”
So far, the group have now swum 6.362 miles (5.53 nautical miles) and have reached St Catherine’s Point.
Kimberley Jennings, another group member, added: “When we set out, I think we thought we would be finishing sometime in the summer, not realising that we are all swimming a lot further than we had originally imagined! So the challenge will be when, and not if, we get to the finish line.
“Keep waving and coming down to support us; we all find it incredibly supportive.”
Anyone who would like to contribute can visit the Shrape GoFundMe page – gofund.me/0633952c.