Council manager and mum Debbie ready for Lake Windermere charity challenge
The mammoth challenge of crossing the 10 and a half miles of Lake Windermere is no mean feat – but a mother of two is hoping to make waves for charity.
She may not have the gold medals of Michael Phelps but Debbie Brackstone from Stafford is tackling the huge stretch of water with the same Olympic spirit as she aims to raise money for the Midlands Air Ambulance and Brain Tumour charities.
The 52-year-old is hoping to raise £500 for the two organisations, that are both close to her heart, when she takes on the challenge on June 18.
She said: “I wanted to do this challenge for a good cause. My mum, who has passed away now, had always supported the Air Ambulance after they helped her in the past, so that was always her passion.
“Then of course my friend Nicki has had her health problems and I wanted to support her and the Brain Tumour charity.”
Nicki Lester from Stone had a brain tumour removed 18 months ago but will undergo another operation next month after it was found to still be there.
“I started training six months ago on the back of Nicki’s first operation and it inspired me to put the work in and raise money,” Debbie added.
“When I started I wasn’t to know that Nicki would need to go in for a really significant operation in four weeks so it’s spurring me on more to do it for her.
“Whilst I’m on the swim I’ll be thinking of my Mum and Nicki throughout, it’s for them, they’ll be close to me the whole way.”
Nicki said: “She’s absolutely amazing, I love her so much, I think she’s incredible.
“We’ve been great friends for about 10 years now and she has been brilliant. She supports me so much mentally and at such a scary time for me that’s so important.
“I think she’ll absolutely smash it, she can do anything!”
Having practised in Chasewater reservoir and taken place in a number of smaller races, Debbie’s preparation has been thorough.
She said: “I’ve been training so hard for this and the support I’ve had from my gym has been tremendous and very encouraging.
"I’ve been helped from all angles by targeting areas for improvement and getting my diet right. I feel a lot fitter and healthier but most of all I feel ready for the challenge.
“The only thing I can’t impact now is the weather and if that impacts on whether I complete the challenge or not.
“I didn’t expect how big the change would be in terms of my eating habits, it’s quite a science. There’s so much to consider and it’s been really quite life-changing.”
Debbie’s two children will be watching from a live link as they’re travelling in Australia but the open-water swimmer isn’t short on support.
She said: “I’ve had so many fantastic messages and people have been so supportive. They’re calling me inspiring and I didn’t realise people would think this.
“My husband and my family have been very supportive. My husband, my sister and her husband will all be on the boat following me and passing me food – I’m looking forward to the Jelly Babies the most!”
She added: “I’ve already joked about doing there and back on the lake, but let’s see how going one way goes first!”
Debbie, who is the Countywide Day Opportunities Manager for Staffordshire County Council, had her first open water swim in 2016 when she represented the council in the Chasewater Ironman relay.
Now, the Lake Windermere challenge is expected to be her most challenging yet as she aims to complete the swim in seven to eight hours.
Anyone interested in supporting Debbie’s fundraising can find more information and donate to the Air Ambulance at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/debbie-brackstone2.
Those wanting to donate to the Brain Tumour Charity can head to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/debbie-brackstone1.