‘I’m so proud I can’t even find the words’ - Brave Ellie overcomes crashing waves for St Elizabeth Hospice
More than 100 supporters gathered on the Suffolk coast to cheer on a 10-year-old girl as she braved the cold North Sea in aid of the charity that cared for her great-grandmother.
Ellie Kirk, from Westerfield near Ipswich, has raised £750 for St Elizabeth Hospice during her Valentine’s Day Dip in Felixstowe.
The young fundraiser had organised the swim after a rare illness meant she could not take part in the hospice’s Christmas Day Dip, which she had signed up for to say thanks for the care offered to her “Grammi” Ellen Ward before her death in 2014.
Proud mother Cath Bright had appealed for people to come out and support her daughter, fearing there would be fewer onlookers on a cold February morning.
“The support from the community has been phenomenal,” she added.
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“There were well over 100 people to cheer Ellie on – pensioners were coming up to me with handfuls of notes to sponsor her.
“She’s got a massive grin on her face and I’m so proud that I can’t even find the words.”
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Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with an image of her great-grandmother, Ellie waded out into the crashing waves under a leaden winter sky.
“She was very nervous about it, but it didn’t faze her at all,” Ms Bright added.
“She was knocked over by a huge wave the moment she stepped into the sea but she got up straight away to cheers from the crowd.
“We’re all on a high right now.”
Ellie had been forced to cancel her Christmas Day Dip after doctors diagnosed her with HSP, a rare blood condition causing joint pain.
Although the illness has resurfaced in recent days, Ellie soldier on to show her support for the hospice.
With help from two hardy sea swimmers who offered to join Ellie, she ran into the sea, submerged herself to her shoulders and ran back out to her waiting family - and St Elizabeth Hospice mascot Woolly the Sheep.
St Elizabeth Hospice events and challenges fundraiser Catherine Sheppard said before the swim: “We’re so pleased to hear that Ellie is much better now and we’re honoured that she still wants to do the dip and raise money for us.”
People can still visit Justgiving to sponsor Ellie.