The Bunting

Use, recycle, inspire!

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The wonderful Liz Reed and my Aunt, Carol Brown, have very kindly agreed to donate their time to create some of this amazing, special bunting for my English Channel Swim in August 2013. In return for their time I will be making a donation to Cancer Research UK.

Some of the bunting will be made from my hats, that map my journey from first starting to Open Water swim, at Takapuna beach in New Zealand 5 years ago, to swimming the English Channel this year.  In between these two there are hats from races and events in New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and Europe including… the Ocean series in NZ, Rangitoto crossing, British Gas Great Swims, the UK Cold Water Championships, the Big Chill Swim, Cork Long Distance Swim Training Camp and even a swim in an outdoor endless pool, in the centre of Manchester for Triathlon England! They are all very special to me and have been kept to trigger memories of very special times, spent in the water, with some of my favourite people.

This bunting isn’t just about my journey though. It’s about the journey that we have all been on and our relationship with open water swimming and swimming in general.  The popularity of open water swimming has really exploded over the past few years, be that as part of triathlon or swimming on its own.  Helped by the internet and social media the ‘family’ of open water swimmers is growing all the time and it’s a community I always find to be warm, welcoming, helpful, friendly and inspiring.  There’s something about the open water and the great outdoors that really brings people together and can challenge us, against the elements, like nothing else.

We want to take this connection, which we all have through our shared passion for this ‘sport’, and use it to create something that will leave a legacy, inspire and bring some colour to our open water lives!

We are also using this as an opportunity to fight back against cancer.  We are all affected by cancer at some point in our lives, either through a direct, personal experience of the disease or through its impact on those we love and cherish.  It is a cruel disease which robs too many people of the chance to live their lives in full. This is our chance to say enough!

Through my swim, I hope to raise £5,000 to support the essential work of Cancer Research UK but more importantly to promote the work of this wonderful charity and share the stories of courage and hope which balance the loss.  Whether a battle has been lost with dignity or won with joy, we all know someone special that deserves to be celebrated for the way they have dealt with their experience of cancer.  I know that these stories and incredible people will be an overwhelming source of inspiration and motivation during the long hours of my swim. It will be an honour to swim with their names in my thoughts and we hope this bunting will be a fitting way to share and celebrate their stories and the colour they have all brought to our lives.

The bunting is, therefore, being lovingly made from recycled hats which have been donated by swimmers, like yourself, from all over the world.  They carry on them handwritten messages of love, inspiration, support, courage and determination.

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When you send a hat we ask you to leave your mark on it, to add to the story being told by the bunting.  This may be:

– Your name and something about the swim when you wore the hat

– The name of a loved one, friend or colleague who has bravely fought cancer, either to celebrate their all-clear or in memory of their life

– A message of support / words of wisdom / advice that will help me during the dark hours of my Channel swim

We would also like you to share your stories and memories, of your swims and lives affected by cancer, in the comments at the bottom of this page.  We will be using these (and photos of the hats / bunting) to create a scrapbook to go with the bunting.

The bunting will be displayed, in all its glory, at several locations, before my swim and we will be having some professional photographs of it taken, to go with the scrapbook.  It will then be used to decorate my boat as I swim across the English Channel- and to decorate some cross-channel ferries both before and after the swim.

After my swim, the bunting will be auctioned to raise much needed funds to Cancer Research UK – and will hopefully continue to be added to!

We would like YOU to be part of this brilliant project so please donate one of YOUR swim hats.  You can do this by either giving a hat to myself, or Liz, at one of the many places we swim, or email: for an address that you can post your hat to.

The beauty of this bunting is that it connects and unites ALL swimmers, whatever your age, ability, experience, culture etc.  Maybe you wear your hat for swimming in a pool? Or it was on your head when you won gold at the Olympics? Maybe you wear it to keep your hair dry in the shower at home? Or found it in the changing rooms after an event? Is your hat from a triathlon?  Or your first swimming lesson as a child? Maybe you wear it with pride when you work as a lifeguard? Did you wear your hat for a special open water swim?  Perhaps you just bought it today, purely so you can write on it and contribute your loved one to this message? Wherever it came from… share it with us and give your hat a new lease of life as… BUNTING!!! 🙂

There is no need for you to part with money for this project (unless you have to pay a little postage), we just ask for a donation of a hat, but if you would like to, you can make a donation to Cancer Research UK at

Thanks SO much for your support and we look forward to receiving your hats soon!!


14 responses to “The Bunting

  1. Please use the reply button below here (or a comments box further down) to share your name, special swim story, memories of a loved one who has fought cancer and / or messages of support and advice / motivational quotes for others. 🙂 Thank you for contributing!

    • Ella I love your blogs and Facebook updates. They make me feel part of the lovely swim family you talk about even though I cannot join in at present. This is such a wonderful idea and your words always touch the heart. We will all have special memories of your journey. Let’s all keep something going as you know I swam for Cancer Research in memory of my mum who died of cervical cancer aged 38 leaving 6 children. Cancer research led to smears and how many lives have been saved now through this? Let me know when doing the bag pack. I can do the collecting one handed even if I can’t pack a bag! Relish the Dover swim challenge and the chance to get a taste of the channel again. Marylyn xxx

  2. We will use the reply orange reply button (below) to create a list of names of all the people who have contributed hats to this project. Please add your name if you have sent a hat and it is not recorded there yet! Thank you!

  3. I’ve sent a hat to this fab cause in recognition of my amazing and inspirational (even though she doesn’t think she is!) swimming buddy, Claire Pattison. Breast cancer survivor and open water swimmer!

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