An open water swimmer from Hampshire is taking on the challenge of the Dart 10km marathon swim to raise money for the hospice that provided palliative care for her late friend as she fought cancer. 

In September, Katherine Anteney will be swimming a long stretch of the River Dart, from Totnes to Greenway - a National Trust property formerly owned by Agatha Christie.

Katherine is aiming to raise as much money as possible for Rowcroft Hospice who provided care for her friend, Sue Bradshaw, up until September 2023 through her final battles with pancreatic cancer, which had struck suddenly and progressed rapidly after being diagnosed in May 2023. 

The two met at Winchester School of Art, both as mature students and had an unbreakable bond from then on.

Katherine describes her friend as a ‘super talented person who loved life’.

Throughout Sue’s cancer battle, Katherine says she felt ‘utterly helpless’ and she felt it right to challenge herself to swim the Dart 10km to raise money in Sue’s memory as the date of the swim will be nearly a year since Sue’s passing.

The training is gruelling; Katherine has been swimming a few kilometres five days a week at her local pool in Southampton. By spring, she aims to be completing longer training swims as the race draws closer. She also plans to complete the race with no wetsuit which makes the challenge all the more difficult.

Rowcroft Hospice provides palliative and end-of-life care to 2,500 patients across Devon each year. Eighty per cent of the charity’s patients are cared for in their own homes as per their wishes through Rowcroft’s community and Hospice at Home teams – just as Sue was. The hospice also has an inpatient unit in Torquay for patients whose complex needs cannot be met at home, and the charity offers many incredible alternative therapies such as reflexology and music therapy, as well as bereavement support for loved ones.

Katherine set up a Go Fund Me page for the hospice with a goal of £1,000, which she exceeded just hours after sharing her post. She now aims to reach £2,174 - the average sum of money it costs Rowcroft to provide someone with end-of-life care, so she can help one person just as the hospice helped her friend. Sue herself had also raised money for Rowcroft Hospice by crocheting blankets, managing to raise over £3,000.

  • This article was written by Sofia Thompson, from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter scheme.