Volunteer takes the plunge for West Sussex Mind

October 2021

Help Point volunteer Kaz Thomson has raised hundreds of pounds for West Sussex Mind in an open water swimming feat

Kaz Thomson swam 2.5km around the lake at Hever Castle and raised over £780 for West Sussex Mind.

She took part in the Castle Race Series [https://www.castleraceseries.c...] 2.5k open swimming event on September 25 and chose West Sussex Mind as her charity because of her own experience of mental health.

Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 15 years old, Kaz received help from Mind, and over the last year she has volunteered with West Sussex Mind’s Help Point service – which provides phone-based help and support to people. So she chose West Sussex Mind as her charity when she decided to take on the open water swimming challenge.

Supporting her from the side lines as she took the plunge were her two young children.

“It was amazing to hear my lovely family cheering me on! I could hear my four-year old son and two-year-old daughter shouting 'go mummy' at the start and waving excitedly.

“When I jumped in, the water was very murky. But I really enjoyed the swim, I tried my best to soak up the views and completed the 2.5km course in one hour and nine minutes without any detours. The sunshine even came out at the finish.

“There was definitely a feeling of instant relief that I had actually done it. I remember my legs felt wobbly when I climbed out, but it was so nice to have hugs from my family. I might have cried a little. At the finish, my kids gave me their own handmade medal, which was so cute.”

Cold water swimming is said to help with mental health, releasing feel-good endorphins and improving mood. Research is currently being conducted into its effectiveness in treating depression.

Communications and fundraising manager Debbie Watkins said: “Kaz’s open water feat, her fundraising efforts and her voluntary work to help others with mental health problems reminds us that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.”

To donate to Kaz’s fundraiser, visit: Virgin Money Giving | 2.5km open-water swim at Hever Castle.

Photos: Castle Race Series

Multiple swimmers in green caps getting instructions by body of water

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