Frances hopes epic swim will raise PS50k for charity.
Byline: Keiran Southern Trinitymirror.com firstname.lastname@example.org
ANORTHUMBERLAND wild swimmer will tackle a gruelling six-hour slog in the Strait of Gibraltar to raise cash for a charity.
Frances Anderson, from Amble, is hoping to bag PS50,000 for If U Care Share, a foundation supporting families bereaved by suicide and the emotional well-being of young people who are a suicide risk.
Depending on tides and currents the 44-year-old expects to swim around 20 kilometres from Tarifa in Spain to Morocco as she navigates the narrow stretch of water which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. The swim is costing the swimmer and her team PS5,000, but it is a cause Frances firmly believes in.
She said: "Some things are more important than money. Three years ago a dear friend lost her husband and her daughter, so the foundation is a cause very close to my heart.
"The foundation believes talking can make a difference, that suicide is preventable and, in some cases, talking about your feelings can be life saving.
"Their support has made a huge difference to many families and communities struggling to cope with the aftermath of a death by suicide."
Frances hopes to raise PS50,000 following ITV's run of #changingminds news items during their evening bulletins last week, which has increased national awareness of mental health issues.
The Gibraltar Strait is a busy shipping zone used by up to 300 vessels daily and Frances will be calling on experience, having twice swum the English Channel - once in a relay and once solo.
She said: "A lot of the time it was misty so I could not see France at all, but I was always aware of the ships.
"You know they are there because you can taste the fuel in the water long before you see them and the pilot boat has sophisticated GPS systems in place to guide the swim and alert other boats of my position.
"The currents are very strong in the Strait of Gibraltar so I shall have to maintain an average speed of 3km per hour or more throughout the swim."
A 44-year-old artist and company director, Frances will be supported by her crew of Paula Turner, from Gateshead, plus mother and daughter sailors Alison and Sarah Burden from South Shields.
Frances said: "They will be feeding me carbohydrate drinks and tinned peach halves and will use two boats - the larger pilot boat which I shall be following and a smaller rib alongside me for fast response safety."
If U Care Share was founded by Shirley Smith of Chester-le-Street, in memory of her son Daniel O'Hare, who took his own life aged just 19.
To donate to the If U Care Share Foundation, visit www.mydonate.bt.com click on "sponsor a fund raiser" and enter Frances Anderson in the "search now" box.
| To follow Frances' efforts on Face-|book, it's Frances Anderson - Gibraltar Strait Swim 2015
Their support has made a huge difference to many families struggling to cope with the aftermath of a death by suicide
Long distance swimmer Frances is raising money for charity <B