Saturday 13th August 2016

Balloon release photoSo…. after getting changed from the swim, it was time to go outside for the balloon release. These were kindly sponsored by DCLT and were to represent one for every mile I had swum over the past year. I am excited to say that we have one balloon found already…. near Grimsby! This might mean that if the wind direction has taken them east, then a lot of them may have ended up in the sea!  However, the tags say that the competition to find them goes on till 31st October so we shall see.

After we had let the balloons go, it was then time to enjoy a Reception in the main room upstairs at the Leisure Centre. It was a lovely opportunity for those invited to chat to the Osmonds, and have photos taken. It was especially nice to recognise those who had offered great support throughout my Challenge, namely Carl Lewis from DCLT who simply could not have done more to support my efforts, for which I am extremely grateful.

A special mention was given to Kayleigh from Tesco Extra and Carolyn from Asda who coordinated the bag packs there. Unfortunately Martine from Morrisons was unable to come at the last minute, but their contribution was also recognised. Then we had Shirl from Thorntons who had donated over 1,000 chocolates for the Hearing Fund Gala, including samples for the Reception. Amazing. My Slimming World Consultant Sue Denton was there, as was the lovely Bobbie Roberts , Head of Trustees from the Deaf School. Special friends who have supported me in a huge way were also included on the guest list.  Finally I could not have missed an opportunity to recognise my lovely husband Paul, and my family, who have each been a tower of strength to me. I really could not have done this without them.

A special thank you to everyone who turned up to make it such an unforgettable occasion.  I am extremely grateful to Merrill, Justin and Kristi Osmond for coming, and for Justin being such a great sport in wanting to swim with me. What an honour! (Thanks to the lovely Tracey for organising their schedule to allow them to be there too!)

The Osmonds came to Armthorpe…. how incredible is that?!  😀

Dreams really can come true.

So what happens next?? As I finished my swim I had a strong impression that this is not the end, but a beginning of something else. Many people have encouraged me to keep writing this Blog once my Challenge ends. I have loved writing. I really do intend to follow it up with a book, because there are lots of things I would have liked to have shared but were unable to for various reasons. For now, the Blog continues. I still need to share the events following the Final Mile day so there is still more to come  ……

 

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Friday 12th August 2016

So…. the 250th mile was complete. Everyone was going a little wild at this point, including the swimmers who had come for a public session who were using the other side of the pool, and had stopped to join in the cheering.  As I climbed out of the pool, someone threw my towel around me because the Calendar news reporter stepped forward at the top of the steps to get my initial reaction! (Added note: my 9 year old grandson Elijah apparently had been looking after my towel, and made sure he gave it to me at the right time 🙂  Thank you Elijah xx) I can’t say I was particularly out of breath but it did make me think later about how these athletes must feel  after winning a medal and they are gasping for air but trying to talk normally for the camera haha.  I wasn’t gasping but it did make me smile.  🙂 Here is the ITV Calendar news link:

http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/2016-08-02/osmonds-to-help-woman-complete-charity-swimming-challenge/

It seems that whilst I was swimming, Merrill was also interviewed by BBC Radio Sheffield. The reporter did a live link with me straight after Calendar had finished but I haven’t heard that report yet.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-south-yorkshire-36943977?ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=facebook&ns_campaign=bbc_live&ns_linkname=57a078d4e4b0d1a9555b299b%26Watch%3A+Osmonds+join+Linda+on+her+final+fundraising+mile%26&ns_fee=0#post_57a078d4e4b0d1a9555b299b

Finally Doncaster Free Press were also there.  I need to buy this week’s newspaper, but I was told about their Facebook page which showed this:

Doncaster Free Press 11 August

The link for this article is at http://www.doncasterfreepress.co.uk/news/osmonds-star-s-son-takes-part-in-250-mile-swim-in-doncaster-1-8063692 but as several people have pointed out, the fundraising total is very much out of date. Owen and Justin

After my swim, I was told about something which happened that I hadn’t been aware of, but there is a lovely moment captured on camera. Justin had presumed that towels are provided at the Leisure Centre but when he realised they aren’t, word got round that he needed something to get dried with after his swim. You may remember young 8 year old Owen McGarry who swam a mile to raise money for The Hearing Fund UK recently. Well Owen had come prepared to swim if there had been an opportunity to. Instead he offered to let Justin borrow his towel, and this picture shows Owen kneeling down at the poolside to let Justin give him a hug to say thank you.  How special is that?!

 

With Owen and Grace

 

 

 
Here is another picture of Owen, along with 8 year old Grace, who also swam a mile with me recently:

 

 

 

 

And finally one of my favourite photos which I now use as my Facebook profile picture. I need a bit of practise with the ‘I love you’ sign though … mine was back to front haha

With Merrill and Justin

Tomorrow’s page will be about the balloon release, and what happened next. To be continued …

Thursday 11th August 2016

Do you know what my problem is? So much happened last week that I’m almost afraid to try and put it into words in case I can’t find the right things to say that will come close to conveying how incredible it all really was.  I have been quiet on here for a whole week, thinking I needed a bit of time to digest it all. The thing is, I still don’t feel much nearer to knowing where to begin! If I leave it much longer, you might even wonder if everything went OK.  (Please believe me, everything went wayyyy more than OK!! 😀 😀 )

Anyway, putting this off so I can tell the story more perfectly only makes another day pass by, so here I am, keyboard at the ready.

I wrote on here last Wednesday about how exciting it was to be waiting in the Reception area of Armthorpe Leisure Centre for everyone to arrive.  What I didn’t mention was something that made me feel very emotional. A very very dear friend handed me a card. As I opened it I realised there was a lot of money inside.  My questioning but delighted look indicated I was wondering how much she had given me and she pointed to something she had written inside the card. It said ‘I saved £1 for every mile you swam!’  Imagine that! £250 on my final day which took my fundraising to £7,000!! You can understand why I hugged her and cried. I simply couldn’t thank her enough. How could I possibly fail in my efforts to fundraise as much as I can, when I have had such incredible support like this. Even over a week later, it makes me emotional to think she did that.

The current total to date is over £7,500, and with money still to come in, it is very likely I will reach the £8,000 mark by the time I’m finished.  If anyone would like to help me make sure of this, and you would still like to make a donation, my current Just Giving page is at https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/linda-carlo Thank you. And a special thank you again to my lovely friend who made my Final Mile day even more memorable because of her wonderful kindness and generosity.

So, back to where I left off. The Osmonds had arrived. Hugs all round. Time to swim my final mile.  Actually is wasn’t a full mile. It was 1000m or 40 lengths.  I had decided that people wouldn’t want to wait around for me to complete a full final mile so I swam extra lengths the day before. My dear friend Carol (also known on here as ‘Friend up North’), who has been my best friend since our Osmonds for Newcastle days, was in charge of the count down flipchart numbers. We decided it would help people up in the viewing gallery see how many lengths I had left.  It also helped me to know how far I had to go.

I was vaguely aware that I was being recorded ‘Live’ on my Facebook page, and it seems that there were many friends and family who couldn’t be there, who watched online as it was happening. The wonders of technology!

As I got into the water, I have been asked several times how I was feeling at this point. I expected to be nervous as there were many people there to come and see me finish this, iFinal mile water shotncluding Merrill, Justin and Kristi Osmond, as well as the reporters from Calendar News and local radio and press. My family and friends were there and my grandchildren were too. This was a big deal. Yet strangely I had the calmest, happiest feeling come over me. My dream was now a reality. I needed to enjoy my swim and believe me, I did.  There were a few moments during the 40 lengths where I caught myself getting anxious when I could see TV camera men crouching down on the poolside to get a good shot, or Press photographers positioning themselves to take pictures at different stages of my swimming stroke.  I was very conscious of Justin swimming Final mile swimming with Justinalongside me but slightly behind. I think if I had had him swimming in constant view, I would have not been so calm! But he had told me that he would stop before I came to the end, so I could finish the final laps on my own. (His family had done this for his 250th mile when he was completing his run, and felt it very important to do that).  As I set off for my last two lengths I could hear the noise from the poolside getting louder, and as I turned at the deep end to swim my final length, I had a strong impression that this is what heaven must be like. Those we love are Final mile Being cheered oncheering us on, encouraging us to do our best, wanting us to complete the race. I was overwhelmed by the love and encouragement and the noise as I finally completed 250 miles. My dream had come true. The deaf children would benefit from all of this and at that very moment in time, this is all that really mattered.

Tomorrow I will return to share what happened next. 🙂

 

Sunday 24th July 2016

As I head into my the final full week of the 250 mile Challenge, I need to share some events of a most memorable day yesterday.  Our last Bag Pack was at Asda. I was a little concerned that I had asked so many of my helpers to come to the previous bag packs, that I would struggle to find enough people help with the last one.  I should not have doubted for a second.  My family have always been willing to help and yet again several friends also came to the rescue, some having already helped before, and it was very successful.  We raised an impressive £560!!  A special thank you to the Asda customers who were so generous.

Having been at the store from 9am, we packed bags till 4.30pm.  We then quickly collected everything up, kindly thanked the Manager for allowing us to be there, and raced across town to Armthorpe Leisure Centre for 5pm where a Swim a Mile event was being held.  I need to give a special shout out to James who was the first positive response to my need for a Duty Manager at Armthorpe.  He was willing to keep the Centre open for the Swim a Mile, after he would usually be heading for home at 5pm when his shift ends.  He was assisted by the lovely Katie, the lifeguard, along with by the awesome Luke who stayed to help too. We could not have held this event without their support and by way of showing how grateful I am, an edible thank you in the shape of cupcakes will be in order 🙂

As I stepped into the Reception, I was touched by how many people had come.  We wanted to set up the upright posters on the poolside which we had used at Asda, so everyone headed into the changing area and I headed to the Pool.  Just as I was about to enter the pool hall area, I stopped to remove my outdoor shoes and as I did so, I caught a glimpse of someone who was standing waiting to go in.  My fleeting thought was ‘He looks just like our Peter!’ (my brother from Newcastle).  As I stood up, he stepped forward and said ‘I’ve come to Swim a Mile with you!!’ It was at that moment I realised it WAS Peter and he had Swim a mile Petercome all that way to support me!!!! I was so overwhelmed I hugged him and cried!  I was so touched he would do that for me. I couldn’t stop smiling!! I come from an amazing family, and whilst I miss my parents terribly at such a special time like this, my brother reminded me again of how blessed I am to have such a positive influence in my life.

 

Along with my lovely brother there were several other people who came who are very important to me.  DCLT Chief Exec Michael Hart introduced himself, followed by the lovely Bobbie Roberts who is head of Trustees at The Deaf School in Doncaster.  I was so touched that they would think that what I am doing is important enough to support this in such a personal way. I really am humbled by that.  Also what meant so much was there were the following lovely people there:

Swim a Mile group

Chris – a nurse from my GP’s surgery who kept an eye on me when I had those serious kidney problems two years ago, which led to my significant weight loss.

Linda – an old colleague of mine. She was one of the first teachers I worked alongside when I first became a swimming teacher.

Jean – a friend from Slimming World who swam her first ever mile yesterday.

Nathan – a lovely chap who has increased his fitness so much in the past month to be ready for this.

John – he had come all the way from Sheffield with his lovely wife.  John is on what we call the Sheffield Stake Presidency in our Church and they oversee the welfare of Church members which includes Doncaster.

Chris – a Duty Manager from Rossington Leisure Centre who simply wanted to offer support.

Lee – an old manager of mine from years ago.

Brenda – my special friend from Slimming World who has supported almost every Bag pack we have had, and came straight from Asda with us to swim.

I hope you can see why I was blown away with this kind of support. Having my brother there was simply the icing on the cake. I swam his last few lengths with him and he kept telling me how proud he was of me.  Peter and I don’t get to see each other very often so you can imagine how him being there made me feel.  It would have been such a special mile to swim anyway, but sharing it with so many awesome people made it an occasion I will never forget.  We raised almost £40 from this event, with almost £500 coming in sponsorship once it has been collected!!

The current total miles is now 445 …. only 5 miles to go!

The fundraised amount so far is £6,263!! If all the promised money comes in, we may even get up to £7,000!!!!

As I head into the final week (my last day is Tuesday 2nd August), I have a prayer in my heart that every single person who has helped in some way, will realise what a difference they have made. Thank you so much.

More about the Final Mile soon …. not long to go now!!

Friday 22nd July 2016

Another full on and exciting day.  I spent all of it either swimming another mile, or preparing for the last week of my Challenge, or getting ready for a very busy day tomorrow. As always, my amazing husband took care of things at home to help me do what I had to do.  (He deserves a medal, that man!! 🙂 )

Anyway, just a quick post tonight with the countdown. Tomorrow will bring help at the Bag Pack from 20 lovely people, including Tracey who runs The Hearing Fund UK.  She is coming all the way from Leeds to lend a hand… how kind is that?!  If anyone is near Asda Superstore (near the Dome) in Doncaster, please come and say hello. This is our last Bag Pack before the end of my Challenge and I would love it if the amount raised takes us over the £6,000 target!

Following the Bag Pack there will be a mad dash across town to my pool at Armthorpe Leisure Centre.  At 5pm we have some very special visitors joining me in our Swim a Mile event. I am quite sure that this mile will be slower than average for me, but it will be completed and I will love every minute of it. More about this tomorrow, with photos. I’m really looking forward to this!

Currently the countdown shows as follows:

22 July

And the fundraising total so far, looks like this: 🙂 🙂 🙂

22 July

If | don’t post again till Sunday, it’s because I temporarily died from exhaustion hahaha

 

 

Thursday 7th July 2016

Feeling tiredness on a new level today, but it’s my own fault!  I just need to remember to eat properly. Oh and get to bed before 1:00am … ha!  (Too much to do, and not enough hours in the day!)

I had a lovely email from Justin Osmond again this afternoon … hello dear friend! (I have told him he mustn’t miss today’s post because of some special things I’m about to share.)

Armthorpe Parish councilThe day began yesterday with a special swimming session at Armthorpe Leisure Centre, with some members of Armthorpe Parish Council, led by the awesome Carl Hughes. We had the pool to ourselves and oh, it felt great to swim with these lovely local people. Many swam further than they have ever done before and I was so impressed by that. One or two even stayed to do an hour’s aquafit with Sam  afterwards, and I really don’t know how they had the energy!  Well done ladies… and Carl! 😀  The amount raised, with a very kind donation from the Parish Council, and from friends and family of those who took part, plus contributions from the local keep fit group, came to an amazing £206!!!   Incredible!  Thank you SO much for all you did everyone. I hope you can pop down when the Challenge comes to an end on Tues 2nd August.  It was so nice to meet you all. x

Owen McGarry.jpgThis brings me nicely on to another mile swim which took place at the pool yesterday afternoon.  As I had already arranged to look after my five grandchildren for a few hours, I was unable to be there. However, I am thrilled to tell you that a lovely 8 year old Armthorpe boy, by the name of Owen McGarry, swam a complete mile to support my swimming challenge.  What an absolute star!! Not only that, he has raised a fantastic amount of sponsorship ….. £110 !!!  You are awesome Owen and I am working on a special way to say thank you to you personally 🙂 I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to see you yesterday but I will make it up to you. Well done!!

Gail

 

The fundraising really is reaching far beyond my expectations.  I must also mention the lovely Gail who took part in the Slimming World mile swim last Friday.  She handed me £216 worth of sponsorship for her swim tonight!!! Considering she had never swum a mile before, I think this is wonderful!  I am really overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of people, who simply want to support the deaf children who benefit from The Hearing Fund UK, and also aim for such high personal challenges in trying to swim further than they ever have been able to before.  It is an absolute honour to know you Gail (and to be your swimming teacher too!) 🙂

 

 

Justin Osmond

So Justin, can you see why I needed to you to read this?  Aren’t these people just so inspirational??? 🙂 xx

 

Finally, an update on the fundraising and distance….. so close now. Only 26  days left….

Money raised 7 July  Distance 7 July 16

Friday 1st July 2016

Wow, wow, wow is all I can say!  What a crazy and hectic and successful couple of days!!  There are so many things needing my attention, I’m starting to understand what an event organiser must feel like! Ha! Apart from swimming almost 5 miles since yesterday morning, some more incredible things have been going on.

AsdaFirstly I met the lovely Carolyn from Asda Doncaster.  The reason why our meeting was so interesting is that when I spoke to her a couple of months ago on the phone about doing a bag pack in her store, unfortunately they were unable to help at the time.  As I came out of my lunch time swim yesterday, Carolyn was in the Reception area at the Leisure Centre. (Talk about being in the right place, at the right time!)  What I had known previously was that she and her colleague at Asda were huge Osmond fans.  We got chatting about how Asda would like to be more involved in the Armthorpe community and whether she could help me after all. She invited me to go see her a couple of hours later at the store.  I can’t share what the outcome of our meeting was yet, because it is subject to approval. However I will say that after speaking to Carolyn at some length, I am SO impressed with what Asda do in our local community to help those in need and who are less fortunate .  What a fantastic job she has, and she makes a massive difference to the local people here.  If permission is granted, I am looking forward to working with her in the very near future, which will certainly benefit The Hearing Fund UK, and potentially have other benefits to the charity afterwards.

I had the biggest grin on my face as I headed from there to teach my swimming classes yesterday.  It was in one of my classes that a certain person (who shall remain nameless), handed me an envelope. They had indicated it was a donation to my fundraising, and thinking it was probably a £5 note for which I would be very grateful for, imagine my amazement when I opened the envelope later and realised they had donated £100!! I actually cried that they could be so generous.
Sw swimThis leads me on to today…. this morning I had my first ‘group’ swim.  Some friends from Slimming World, including my lovely SW Consultant Sue, met to swim some lengths. Whilst the group was small, Brenda and Gail completed the second part of their first ever mile, and Sue swam 45 lengths!!  There is quite a lot of sponsorship coming from today and I am so very grateful for their efforts to support the Challenge. We had a great time. (Mile 227 completed)

This afternoon was spent talking to many people about my plans for July before I get to the end.  I am trying really hard to get through the necessary procedure to receive a Street Collection License so that I can talk to the people of Donny on Market Day, to drum up some last minute support.  This is proving more difficult than first thought.  We will see if my license can be processed in time.

Tonight I had a couple of exciting things happen.  I headed back to the pool because I had been invited by Armthorpe Lifesaving Club to come and swim a mile with them. Before I got to the changing rooms, I had some news that made me smile (again!)….

Louis Tomlinson

 

Louis Tomlinson of One Direction now knows about my Challenge, thanks to a colleague of mine who happens to be his cousin, and who spoke to him on the phone about it.  It turns out he would be happy to support me if his cousin swims a mile with me. How cool is that?!!!  I know Louis supports a lot of charities, so I am honoured that The Hearing Fund will benefit from his interest in what I’m doing. If you get to read this Louis, THANK YOU!!! x

 

 

 

 

I then swam my 228th mile with some awesome kids tonight.  I am especially grateful to Ian Fillingham for the work he does with the Club, and how supportive he has been to me personally. He is the type of guy where nothing is too difficult, and from the moment he knew about what I was doing a few months ago (actually it was the night I laid out the 125 mile floats on the poolside because I had reached half way!), Ian has been really positive about everything. He couldn’t have been more helpful!

Armthorpe Amateur Swimming Club made an extremely generous donation tonight, and I am so grateful for their kindness and support.  I will tell you more about the swim tomorrow, with photos to come.

What a difference 48 hours can make! (4.3 miles/275 lengths  and £226!)

New fundraising total:  £3,906       New swimming total: 228 miles

Tired but happy. 🙂 zzzzz