Diane dives into charity swim to help Wolverhampton's Big Venture Centre

A kind-hearted volunteer is making a splash to help raise much-needed funds for an award-winning community hub.

Diane Lewis will swim 2,654 lengths of the pool
Diane Lewis will swim 2,654 lengths of the pool

Diane Lewis, who was born in East London but is now an adopted Black Country girl, is attempting to swim the length of the Catalina Channel - twice - in just 48 days in aid of the Big Venture Centre in Wolverhampton.

The 55-year-old is swimming 40 lengths, five times per week to hit her marathon target of swimming over 41 miles and the good news is the community is backing her with over 75 per cent of the £1,000 target already reached.

She has swapped the Catalina Channel between Santa Catalina Island and Southern California for Bentley Bridge Leisure Centre, but is still determined to smash both the mileage and the fundraising total.

“The Big Venture Centre does so much good for the people of WV10 in Wolverhampton, but, like many organisations, has been hit hard by Covid-19,” said Diane.

“I wanted to do my own little bit to help generate some cash so thought I’ll ramp up the swimming a little and, before I knew it, I’d committed to swimming the famous Catalina Strait.

"It was supposed to be just once to start with, however, progress was going really well so I thought I might as well swim back.

“It’s about 2,654 lengths of the pool, a fair distance. Everyone has been really supportive, and I can’t thank the community enough for raising over £750 already. The big question is, can we get it to £1,000?"

Cheering on Diane are Max Swan, Karen Trainer, Madison Mitchel, Becca Shepard, Sharyah Bernard and David Chadwick

The Queen’s Award-winning Big Venture Centre, which is part of the WV10 Consortium, was created by local people in 2017 in response to the Scotlands Adventure Playground closing.

Since then, the centre has been transformed into a community hub with its 10-strong army of volunteers meeting the challenges of Covid-19 head-on by transforming the usual coffee shop, hall and gardens into a distribution centre where food parcels and activities were put together and delivered to those in need in the WV10 area of Wolverhampton.

They also provided one-to-one telephone befriending and counselling, shopping for those that were isolating, topping up electricity and gas meters and providing items of bedding through the Winter Warmth programme.

Now the attention has tuned on getting safely back to normal, with lots of activities for children in place for the school holiday.

Karen Trainer, volunteer centre manager at Big Venture Centre, is among those cheering Diane on. She said: “Diane is one of our best volunteers and a true inspiration. She’s also a bit mad and this is being summed up by this fantastic challenge.

“The money she raises will all go directly into funding the work that we do in WV10, ensuring we support as many people as possible.”

To donate to Diane’s challenge, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/diane-lewis-33.

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