UoN researcher to swim the Channel for children’s charity

August 12th, 2021

Maddy Ellis, a 27-year-old researcher at the university and ex-student, is preparing to swim the English channel to raise money for her favourite children’s charity, Over The Wall.

Maddy plans to swim the 21 miles between the UK and France in September 2021, whilst aiming to raise £10k for the Havant based charity that provides free residential camps for children with serious illness. Her brave efforts will enable even more children to experience the wonders of the charity’s camps.

Maddy has previously volunteered at the Over The Wall’s Midlands camps in Staffordshire, helping children with health challenges to reach beyond the boundaries of illness to discover a world of mischief, magic and new possibilities.

Having previously been a runner in full and half marathons, Maddy is no stranger to a physical challenge, but this will be her first long-distance swim. For the last two years s Maddy has been training by swimming in open water for many hours (and even in freezing lakes), whilst also taking regular ice baths to climatise to the cold temperatures expected.

Maddy will be one of very few people to have achieved this challenge, as there have only ever been 2,428 successful channel swims, since the first in 1875 and only 37% of these were women.

Maddy Ellis swimming

As a vegan, Maddy will be among even fewer swimmers that have – as she described- ‘been powered only by plants.’

Maddy said, “I often have wild ideas, but this one popped in my head two years ago, and I immediately registered to do it before anyone could talk me out of it. Volunteering for Over The Wall is one of the best things I have ever done and so it means so much for me to be able to fundraise for the charity and to help provide more opportunities for children to experience camp.”

The outbreak of Covid-19 meant that Over The Wall was forced to cancel its camps in 2020 and 2021. However, the charity quickly developed a virtual, interactive online platform called ’Camp in the Cloud’ that has brought the same joy and magic of the residential camps into each camper’s home. Maddy has also volunteered on these virtual camps helping children experience the next best thing.

“Camp in the Cloud has been an amazing alternative to normal camp, and Over The Wall has done wonders to allow the children to be active, connect with each other and most importantly, have a lot of fun. I absolutely love camp – it feels like home for me now. Nowhere else allows children with serious illness to safely enjoy themselves, forget their illness and experience that magic. Camp will certainly motivate me during the difficult moments of this challenge!”

CEO of Over The Wall, Kevin Mathieson said, “We are truly honoured and incredibly grateful for all of Maddy’s hard work, as both a fundraiser and a regular volunteer. Her efforts in crossing the channel will make a great difference to our charity and will certainly help us to continue to provide our residential camps, when we’re able to reopen the doors to our physical camp locations.”

If you would like to sponsor Maddy on her channel crossing, you can do via her JustGiving page.

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