Bikini-clad Northumberland woman braves the chill of the North Sea to raise funds for charity

An Alnwick woman is taking to the freezing cold waters of the North Sea this winter dressed only in a bikini, hat and goggles.

Gill Castle is doing dozens of open water swims over the next few months to raise awareness and funds for a cause close to her heart.

In 2011, she gave birth to her son, Sam, six weeks premature.

During the birth his heart rate dropped and during the rush to get him out Gill sustained a major tear which resulted in a permanent stoma (colostomy).

Gill Castle, from Alnwick, is doing a series of open water swims this winter to raise funds and awareness of the Birth Trauma Association.

She was medically retired from her job as a police officer and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, post-natal depression and anxiety.

It took several years for Gill to find her feet, thanks in large part to exercise and an optimistic outlook.

In 2015 she joined a cycling club and has since done a triathlon, half ironman, scuba diving, sky diving and more.

She has also set up a positivity blog and website called Stoma Chameleon which aims to inspire people who have experienced birth trauma and/or have a stoma.

Gill Castle is raising funds for the Birth Trauma Association.

“When I had my traumatic birth, there was nothing positive out there about how people can recover from something like that,” she explained before taking her latest dip in the lake at Chillingham Castle.

“I wanted to show them what is possible and that they’re capable of more than they think.”

Her latest challenge, which involves swimming in the sea at Boulmer or taking to local rivers and lakes, aims to raise money for the Birth Trauma Association. She has raised a fantastic £2,226 so far.

She is committed to open water swims three times a week until May.

Gill Castle will be doing much of her open water swimming at Boulmer.

“I am getting my bag out and my bikini on to raise awareness of birth injuries and stomas,” said Gill.

“The temperature will drop as low as 4c and it’s a massive undertaking.

“I have made a sign which I am taking with me every time I go to the beach/lake/river, and if it’s too rough in the open water I even have an old bath in my garden!

“I didn’t get my bag out in public until June 2020, and now I am putting up a sign on the beach telling my story to strangers, while prancing about in the icy sea.”

Open water swimmer Gill Castle even has a bathtub in the garden of her Alnwick home.

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