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Channel swim in aid of marine charity for north-east woman

Rebecca Campbell Wilson during her training for the English Channel swim this year
Rebecca Campbell Wilson during her training for the English Channel swim this year

A north-east woman who was reintroduced to open water swimming after the death of her husband is preparing to swim the English Channel.

Rebecca Campbell Wilson, owner and manager of the Castle of Park Estate, has self-funded her swim and is donating all the money she raises to a Banff marine conservation organisation.

The 51-year-old, who lives in Cornhill, had been struggling with life and being sole provider for her three children after her husband Neil died in 2014 from a brain tumour at the age of 48.

Coming from a water-loving family, her sister, Maggie Tesolin, reintroduced her to open water swimming which has blossomed from a hobby into a determination to swim to France.

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Ms Wilson will be taking on the 22.5mile swim from Dover to Calais from July 17 in aid of the Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit (CRRU).

She said: “I chose to support them as they are based locally and are linked very much to the sea and the environment, two things that are very important to me.

“I try to swim in the sea at least two to three times a week and the CRRU not only helps protect local wildlife but educated people on the sea and environment.”

Ms Wilson said she would be taking on a challenge which had been completed by relatively few people.

“Just over 1,800 people have successfully swam the channel, the first being Captain Webb in 1873,” she said.

“Mount Everest was first climbed in 1953 and since then, over 4000 people have reached the summit, so that gives you an idea of the magnitude of the challenge.

“I’m also an older swimmer, and there have only been 20 successful swims by women over 50 in the 140 odd years people have been attempting it.”

But it was the struggle after her husband Neil died, having been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2012, that led to her swimming passion.

She said: “I was actually in India when I was informed Neil had collapsed and flew home just in time to see him going into surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain.

“He was given just a few months to live and I stopped working to be with him and my children.

“Two of our three children were still at primary school at the time and my husband had been the main homemaker.

“He had completely lost his short term memory from the start of the diagnosis, which did not help with him understanding his capabilities or why he was so ill and he had to be cared for 24 hours a day.”

After his death she turned their beloved castle home into her work, balancing that with her passion for swimming.

On July 16 she will travelling to Dover to meet with her support crew and prepare to cross the English Channel – aiming for a time between 16 and 18 hours.

To donate to the cause and support Ms Wilson in her swim visit

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