Mum's Channel swim will raise funds for charity that has helped her 'one in seven billion' daughter who has rare genetic disorders

Adele Havercroft is preparing to swim the English Channel to support three causes close to her heart. She tells Laura Reid about what motivates her for the challenge ahead.

it has been number one on her bucket list since she was a teen and nearly 30 years later Adele Havercroft hopes to finally tick off swimming solo across the English channel.

The 47-year-old from Elloughton, East Yorkshire is set to take on the approximately 21-mile feat at the start of July and in doing so will raise money for three causes close to her heart.

It will be a test of endurance which she hopes will boost her self-worth and support local organisations, but on top of that, it is an opportunity to show her daughter what can be achieved with that classic combination of hard-work and determination.

Adele Havercroft, who is preparing to swim across the English Channel.

Hannah is nine-years-old and has four genetic disorders.

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“She’s way behind her age group peers but she’s learning and a big thing for me is for her to see that if she works hard, she can achieve things.”

Hannah’s disorders are so rare, they do not have names and are described instead by letters and numbers referencing different parts of her genetic make up. She was diagnosed just before she was two.

Adele is raising money for her daughter's school and a charity that has supported the family.

“We were told just before she turned two not to expect her to walk or talk and we’ve always said absolutely no chance, we’re going to ignore that,” Adele says.

“We work and she works very hard and live by [the notion that] if you work hard enough there’s nothing you can’t do.

“I’d like her to see how hard I’m working and just because something’s hard doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You just have to work hard and do your best. I want her to see everybody does that, not just her.”

Hannah is walking and talking, despite her disorders, and she and Adele’s husband Rob will head down to Dover to see the challenge begin.

“I’m absolutely terrified,” says Adele, who back in March 2020, secured a space with an accompanying pilot escort boat to do the swim.

“Then we had the first Covid lockdown so I’ve lost months and months of training because we weren’t allowed to travel, the pools were closed for months...

“Whilst it hasn’t gone to plan, I’m doing my best and I’ll be ready to have a good go at it.”

The training has ramped up over the past few weeks, with Adele undertaking more outdoor swims as well as those in pools.

“I think the biggest issue for me is going to be the water temperature,” she says.

“I’m ignoring the jellyfish and swimming in the dark and the waves and swimming 21 miles. My brain can only focus on this is going to be really cold.”

Adele, who works part-time at East Riding Libraries, is no stranger to fitness challenges, nor to fundraising.

She has done the Cancer Research Race for Life 18 times in memory of her late mum Pat, with a trek to the base camp of Mount Everest, an abseil off the Humber Bridge and the London Marathon among her other achievements.

“I get a lot of self worth I think from doing bigger and better than what I’ve done before…I get a lot of self worth from physical challenges, running, swimming, cycling...

“And I just think if I’m doing something and training a lot, then it’s a good opportunity to raise some pennies for charities.”

Adele adds: “This has been on my bucket list. I have had an actual physical bucket list which I’ve added to over the years since I was about 18. That was always number one on my list.

“I can’t tell you what made me put it on my list at that point but I get a real kick out of doing things that I know not many people have done before.”

For this challenge, Adele has chosen to support three causes “very special to me”.

The first is Dove House Hospice in Hull, which she says gave “amazing care” to both her mum and family. It is now just over 20 years since Adele’s mum died, aged 59, after a short period with cancer and she would this year have been celebrating her 80th birthday.

Adele will also be raising money for the Special Stars Foundation, a Hull-based charity, which provides activities and support for people with learning and physical difficulties and their families.

“Having a child with special needs can be lonely and very scary,” Adele says. “We have been lucky enough to attend many different sessions with Special Stars and it’s wonderful to know that no matter what happens, we are welcome and will never be judged. “

The third cause Adele is supporting is St Anne’s School in Welton, where her daughter has attended since the age of two.

It is hoped any cash can be used to buy something which Hannah’s class can benefit from and in turn, so can children who pass through the school after her.

“She’s thriving, doing a huge long list of things we were told she probably wouldn’t ever do and, most importantly, she’s happy at school and absolutely loves going,” Adele says.

“She will hopefully attend until she’s 19 and we’re excited to see what amazing things she learns in that time.”

“I don’t think Hannah understands quite how big a challenge this is,” Adele says, “but she’s been quite involved and thinks it’s marvellous.

“I want her to see how hard I’m trying, how hard I’m training because I want that to be normal for her…you work hard and your dreams come true so I hope that’s what she sees.”

Adele Havercroft has three different fundraising pages for the causes she is supporting close to her heart.

To donate to Dove House Hospice, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adele-havercroft1

For the Special Stars Foundation pot, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adele-havercroft2

And to support St Anne’s School, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adele-havercroft3

She has so far raised around £1,500 across the pages.

Adele expects the swim will take around 14 hours.

The date she sets off depends on the tide and weather conditions but is expected to be between July 3 and 20.