Dozens of young swimmers made a splash in Melton on Saturday when they helped raise £4,000 for a charity which funds research for a life-limiting severe muscle wasting disease.
The Duchenne Dip was the latest fundraiser by a remarkable Thorpe Satchville family who have now raised an average of £1,000 a month over the last 40 months for Duchenne UK, which supports the young sufferers of an extreme form of muscular dystrophy.
Nicki and Matt Lygo and their children, Maddy (15), Gabe (11) and seven-year-old Nate were motivated to organise a series of events after the son of family friends was diagnosed with the condition.
The weekend’s event, at Waterfield Leisure Pool, involved 35 swimmers, aged from seven to 16, who were sponsored to complete a varying number of lengths.
Proceeds increased enormously on last year’s first Duchenne Dip, which raised £2,800.
Nicki said afterwards: “I am absolutely blown away that we raised that much more with the same number of swimmers from last year.
“The spirit on the day was summed up by our youngest swimmer who was seven.
“They were only going to do two lengths but everyone was cheering loudly and they felt so proud that we couldn’t get them out of the pool.
“Some of the younger swimmers clearly felt a little daunted when it was time to get into the pool, but with a little encouragement and some help from the more experienced teenage participants, they climbed in and nothing could stop them.
“One of the youngests swimmers ended up swimming 16 lengths which was amazing.”
Many of the swimmers were pupils at John Ferneley College in the town and Gaddesby Primary School. Alice Skinner, who has just completed her GCSEs, filled in two sponsorship forms with donations and raised a phenomenal £274.50, earning herself a prize as the best individual fundraiser.
Every participant received a commemorative medal and certificate for taking part.
The Lygos were indebted to the support given by an army of 20 volunteers and pool-side helpers, including parents and Melton school students.
“They counted lengths, co-ordinated swimmers, did stints of bucket-shaking and avidly sold cakes, drinks, tombola and raffle tickets,” said Nicki.
“And that’s not to mention the many more who baked and donated gifts for our stalls
“We couldn’t be more grateful to them all.”
The Lygos would also like to thank the assistance of the swimming pool’s staff for helping the event to run smoothly, as well as donating prizes and helping with the raffles and sales on the day.
Sainsbury’s also donated snacks to help keep the swimmers going throughout the evening and three diving photographers drove up from the south coast to take pictures without charge.
The photos were taken by Pash Baker and Robert White, from Marine Pix, and Saeed Rashid, from Focus Visuals.
The family began fundraising in June 2014 after their young friend Tom was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Those with the condition start life healthily but after having the diagnosis around the age of four they gradually lose the use of their muscles, become wheelchair-bound and, on average, sufferers die in their late teens or early 20s.
Nicki, who is a junior doctor at Leicester Royal Infirmary, added: “It’s an absolutely appalling disease and we as a family want to do everything we can to support those like Tom who have it.
“We are on the precipice of discovering something very important with the research and there is genuine hope for sufferers.
“We are proud that our friends, family and wider community have been generous enough to have helped us raise, on average, £1,000 per month since we began our challenges and events.”
Aside from the swim events, they have organised a number of long distance walks and marathons, a children’s cycle ride and a Teddy bear’s picnic.
Last year Gabe completed a staggering 87-mile long distance trail last year and Nicki walked more than 500 miles across the Pennines.
Go online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/endduchenne if you would like to pledge money to the family’s fundraising campaign.