A watersports enthusiast has an unusual 50th birthday wish – to swim around 50 castles all over the world.
And as part of the mission, Jane Hardy managed to tick one off her list earlier this month, by swimming the moat of the Castle of Good Hope, in South Africa.
But for Jane, this particular challenge was more important than trying to reach the half-century.
The 49-year-old from Alnwick, whose birthday is in January, took on the Cape Town dip in aid of Breadline Africa.
Jane, a community sports officer for Active Northumberland, wanted to raise funds to support the purchase of a shipping container, which will be refurbished for children to use as a classroom.
Swimming around the Castle of Good Hope had never been done before, but Jane managed to complete the feat, joined by local man Arafat Gatabazi.
The pair were cheered on by a small group, who ran around the moat trying to follow the brave duo and capture videos and pictures.
After the swim, they said that it wasn’t as bad as they had thought it would be.
Jane said: “I loved it. The water was great. It was warmer than we expected and it was cleaner.
“I was nervous at first because they’d fished the body of a vagrant out earlier in the year, but the water comes from a natural mountain spring and is relatively clean.
“The Castle of Good Hope swim had not been done before, so I was delighted to do it and I was thrilled to have Arafat join me.
“The castle swim was my most important. Besides my birthday wish, I wanted to raise funds for Breadline Africa for the classroom. This swim was to raise awareness and to support what they do.”
Jane, an open-water swimmer, met Arafat last year at the Robben Island to Cape Town Freedom Swim.
Arafat was taught to swim by Marion Wagner, the acting director of Breadline Africa.
Amazingly, Jane and Marion went to the same university in 1986 and the pair met again, for the first time in years, at the Good Hope Castle swim.
Jane was only too happy to support an old friend and help the work that she does.
Edna Titus, the donor liaison officer at Breadline Africa, thanked Jane for her efforts and said she was inspired by the initiative. She added: “It touches you in so many ways when people try to help those who are struggling. We are grateful to Jane and Arafat.”
The money raised by Jane’s efforts will go towards purchasing the shipping container. Edna added: “Then we still have to convert it into what is needed. It does not come cheap.”
To sponsor Jane, visit www.tinyurl.com/z3mwqou
Aside from the charity efforts, the swim has helped Jane scrub a castle off her list of 50. She has already completed swims around moats of a number of castles, including Lichtenstein Castle, in Hout Bay, South Africa.
The Duke of Northumberland has given Jane permission to swim in the River Aln, in the shadow of Alnwick Castle.
Explaining the rationale behind her castles challenge, Jane said: “I just thought it would be a bit different to swim to 50 castles and it would be interesting to engage with history too.”
○ Jane is taking part in an open-water swim at Boulmer on November 26 to support homeless people. For details, visit the Crisis Winter Coat Amnesty Swim page on Facebook.