Jacqui Hargrave from Knaresborough has supported Candlelighters for many years, attending balls and events held by the Harrogate Candlelighters, who are a group of volunteers who raise funds for the charity.

In January 2017 Jacqui had surgery on both of her feet that left her unable to walk further than the kettle and back, for seven long weeks. Following this came a further 6 weeks of recuperation, and trying to remember how to walk again!

During this time, her son suggested that she started writing a blog as a way of alleviating the boredom and frustration. Having never written anything in her life, she thought why not? It’s only a journal after all; it’s unlikely anyone will be interested…

Just before she had surgery her swim bud, nicknamed Shark, decided that their challenge for 2017 would be to swim the length of Windermere. This is a massive 10.5 miles, and much further than they have swam before, and would be the most difficult swim, both physically and mentally (a possible 6 hours of swimming non-stop) to date.

The surgery meant that she couldn’t even begin training again until 1st March, and that was if all went well, which left her with less than 7 months to train, from scratch. However having that goal to think about, especially during her long recovery, gave her something to focus on, and plan for as well as raising money for charities including Candlelighters. 

Jacqui said “Those of you that know me well, know that when I set a challenge, there is no way I will not do it! So, along with Shark, I began a 7 month grueling, tiring, frustrating, ambitious, amazing, fun filled journey, full of highs, lows and everything in between, all documented in my little blog. It’s a year today since I got back in the pool and my love of open water swimming continues (not including the fishes or the swans) and so does my little blog.

I have been amazed and overwhelmed at the amazing response I have had, with over 200,000 readers since I began writing it. Since our Windermere swim I was asked if I would consider putting last year’s journey into a book. Going from a blog to a book is something quite different, and a lot scarier, however I decided after a lot of consideration to take the plunge (no pun intended) and do it, and finally has now been published.

How amazing (but mostly scary) is that? I hope that for those of you that read it feel inspired to not only take on difficult challenges, but also to never underestimate how far you can push yourself to achieve what you set out to do.”

Jacqui’s book ‘Open Water Woman’ is now available to buy on Amazon www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1980614660/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522825431&sr=8-2&keywords=jacqui+Hargrave

The link to her blog is: https://openwaterwoman.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

Swimming runs in the family as Jacqui’s son Jake Hargrave, who is now 19 years old, did the Great North Swim in June 2016 when he was just 16. Jake raised over £1222 for Candlelighters after losing his hair from alopecia. Even at his young age he wanted to do something for children with cancer so this was the perfect way to support them and provide a good distraction for him at the same time.

Jen Aspinall, Community Fundraiser for Candlelighters said: “I supported Jacqui with her fundraising when she was taking on the challenge and was in awe of her then so it’s amazing that so many people have been inspired by reading her blog and she now has her own book. Her family and friends have been a huge support for the children and families Candlelighters care for across Yorkshire and we can’t thank them enough.”

 Photos Courtesy of Yorkshire Post newspaper


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