Florence gets in the swim

ELEVEN-year-old super swimmer Florence Dickin has embarked on a marathon - crossing the English Channel ten times.

ELEVEN-year-old super swimmer Florence Dickin has embarked on a marathon - crossing the English Channel ten times.

At least the enthusiastic youngster doesn't have to face up to the cold and huge waves of the sea, but it still means swimming 220 miles.

Florence is swimming a mile every day at Crown Pools in Ipswich, raising money for the charity Aspire, which supports people who have suffered spinal injuries.

So far she has completed two 22-mile crossings and is currently swimming a mile a day at her early morning sessions, aiming to complete the marathon in under a year.

Florence - who lives with her mum Helen Ely, dad William Dickin and sisters Catherine, 17, Charlotte, 13, and brother Alexander, 15, in Hervey Street, Ipswich - was inspired to get involved with the charity after seeing a banner promoting it at the pool.

“They asked if Florence would like to do something this year for the charity and she thought about it and decided that she would like to swim the channel ten times,” said Miss Ely.

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“She goes swimming every morning every week day and is a real water baby - it is really helping her swimming and it's good exercise, too.”

Florence, who is home-tutored at the moment but will be going to Northgate High from September, was invited to visit Aspire's headquarters in London and to see the work it does with people with spinal injuries, including the special swimming pool created for use by people with disabilities.

“She is really enjoying the swimming and it will be a great thing to have achieved. She is also raising money for Aspire and has been sponsored by friends and family,” added her mum.

Are you helping to raise money for a charity or promote their vital work? Contact our news team on 01473 324788 or email starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Aspire

Aspire was created in 1982 to help the 1,200 people who become paralysed each year through spinal cord injury.

People the charity works with have lost muscle and sensory control and the vast majority become full time wheelchair users for the rest of their lives.

Most are aged 15 to 40 and the charity's workers currently help 40,000 people living in the UK lead fulfilled and independent lives in their homes, with their families, in work-places and leisure time.

Aspire built a �2 million rehabilitation unit next to the spinal unit at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore in 1991.

Seven years later it spend �5m on doubling the facilities with swimming pool, dance studio, caf� and training suite.

Its work ranges from practical help, such as a grant for a wheelchair or help with housing, to providing information, training or advice.

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