Vicar and mum’s lake swim for charities

Jo Hudson and Rev Stephen Cooper celebrate their success in the Great North Swim
Jo Hudson and Rev Stephen Cooper celebrate their success in the Great North Swim
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Garstang super mum Jo Hudson and St Thomas’s vicar Rev Stephen Grey are both celebrating this week - after successfully completing the Great North Swim in Windermere for their chosen charities.

They braved the waters of the Cumbrian lake to complete the one mile challenge on Saturday.

Jo, from Cabus, explained the swim was part of a new resolution to get fit - partly in tribute to her son Thomas’s own efforts to complete gruelling physiotherapy and partly to ensure she is fit enough to care for him as he grows.

Thomas, three, has cerebral palsy and Jo explained: “I’ve done various things through his three years to raise extra money for therapy and equipment.This year I thought, mainly because of what I put him through - I don’let him give up, so I thought I better take some of my own medicine and set a physical challenge for myself.”

In fact she set not one but two -as well as the Swim, Jo plans to rise to the Total Warrior Challenge (a six mile obstacle course) in Shap, Cumbria in August.

Jo trained with a friend swimming outdoors at Capernwray, near Carnforth, as well as in Lancaster university’s pool.

She said: “I was never a massive swimmer but I kind of taught myself to be able to do the distance.”

After donning her wet suit she says she was pleased to discover that Windermere was a relatively warm 17 degrees C compared to the recent Capernwray training temperature of 12 degreesC.There to cheer her on were husband Lee, an engineer at ABB of Thornton, and parents Lynne and Philip Kirkby who saw her compete the swim in 46 minutes and 26 seconds.Two university friends, who now live in Cheshire and London completed the swim with her and together they raised £3,000.

Now Jo’s focus is set on Shap and she said: “I’ll be running on the streets of Garstang and I’ll try to do some strength sessions in the gym.”

The 32 year old, who was formerly a public health worker says she intends to set herself more challegnes to retain the commitment to keeping fitter. She added: “It’s made me feel loads better. I feel very proud and I know it’s spurred me on to try and do different things.”

Jo, who finished 2,650th, was raising money for ‘Treatment for Thomas’, benevolent fund IET Connect and the Bobath Centre, which has provided specialist advice and physio care for Thomas in the past.

Meanwhile inspired by Jo’s example the Rev. Stephen Grey - Vicar, St Thomas Church, Garstang agreed to swim the Great North Swim with Jo to raise money for the St Thomas’s Parish and Community Hall project.

Rev Grey finished 3220th out of a total of nearly 6000 swimmers and hopes to raise some £1500.

Anyone wishing to sponsor Jo can find details at