Felixstowe teenager determined to carry on swimming in dad's memory

Abi Dunnett

Abi Dunnett is planning to swim on Christmas Day in memory of her father, Chris. - Credit: Kerry Dunnett

For years Felixstowe schoolgirl Abi Dunnett had watched her father Chris take part in the town's Christmas Day swim as he raised money for the St Elizabeth Hospice - but she was too young to join him because you have to be at least 13 years old.


Chris Dunnett

Chris Dunnett died in February. - Credit: Kerry Dunnett

Tragically Chris died from cancer himself earlier this year - but now that she is 14 Abi was determined to take part in the event and raise money for the hospice service that enabled him to stay at home for the last weeks of his life.

And she was determined not to let a little thing like the organised swim being called off prevent her from going into the sea on December 25.

Her solo dip is set to go ahead on Christmas morning together with another member of the family and under the gaze of Felixstowe Coastwatch volunteers as she hopes to raise funds for the hospice's work with people in their own homes.

Chris Dunnett as penguin

Chris Dunnett in his penguin costume in the Christmas Day swim 2017. - Credit: Kerry Dunnett

Abi's mother Kerry said Chris had been a stalwart of the swim for many years: "He always took part in the event - raising money for the hospice. The last one he took part in was in 2017 when he wore the penguin suit. That's what Abi is going to wear."


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Chris, who was 61 when he died, had been fit until the end of last year. Kerry said: "We were on holiday in Egypt and he got pains in his stomach that we thought were from being away. 

"When we got home and it didn't get better he went to the doctor and we found out it was cancer. His last day at work was on Christmas Eve and he died in February.

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"But he had very good care from the Hospice with their community team - and they are still there to help with counselling which is very important for Abi. She was determined to help them with this swim."

Abi had hoped to raise £150 - the cost of one day's care at home by the team - but so far more than £350 has been raised and more is still coming in. She has set up a Just Giving page to allow people to make donations.

Kerry said that even after the official swim had been cancelled, Abi was determined to go ahead. The family had checked there would be safety back-up on hand, but the dip in the North Sea is not expected to last long!

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