Four years ago, aged just eight years old, Bel Young suffered a catastrophic and life-changing accident.
Whilst playing on a climbing frame, Bel fell and broke her neck. Her mother, Vanessa, ran to the scene of the accident and gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until the ambulance arrived – an act which undoubtedly saved her life.
Now, paralysed from the neck down, the 12-year-old is confined to a wheelchair and reliant for much of the time on a ventilator to breathe. She requires 24-hour care and physiotherapy for up to two hours a day.
Her uncle, Nick Young is attempting to swim the English Channel this September and is hoping to raise £50,000 to buy Bel a hydrotherapy pool.
Until recently father-of-three Nick (43), who lives in Rimington with his wife, Jo, did everything he could to avoid too much contact with cold water – the limited experience he had of swimming consisted of being dragged off to the local pool on a Saturday morning with his children, who all attend Pendle Primary School, Clitheroe. However, it was until he went to watch Bel, who previously lived in Skipton, but has now moved to Harrogate, take part in a hydrotherapy session.
“It was really hard to watch what Bel was put through during the session,” explained Nick, who works as head of regional sales at Channel 5.. “Her physio, Mark, told me it was the equivalent of running a marathon, but she tried her hardest at everything she was asked to do. I came away determined that I wanted to do something to help her. Bel faces enormous challenges every minute of every day of her life, little things that we all take for granted are impossible for her. She never grumbles or feels sorry for herself and I decided to set myself the challenge of a solo channel swim to try and raise enough money to buy a hydrotherapy pool for her to use at home. The channel presents an enormous challenge – at its shortest point the crossing is 21 miles, but currents and conditions mean swimmers can end up swimming many more miles in total.
He added: “It isn’t just the distance that’s the challenge, high winds and wave heights in excess of two metres plus jellyfish, seaweed and floating debris. It is also one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world with 600 tankers and 200 ferries/other vessels going across daily.”
Nick’s goal is to raise a staggering £50,000 and he has almost raised £46,000.
He said: “Bel is a brave little girl - the daily challenges she faces inspire me to complete this challenge. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me reach my target.
“Physiotherapy is hard work for Bel, but is a vital part of her day and due to her determination and positive attitude, she is starting to make progress.
“I’m swimming the channel to try and raise enough funds to buy a small hydrotherapy pool for Bel.
“This form of aquatic therapy is enormously beneficial to her as part of her weekly routine of physiotherapy - the water supports her and allows her muscles to relax, meaning she can achieve so much more in the pool than on dry land.
Anyone wishing to support Nick should log onto https://www.justgiving.com/NickYoungChannelSwim/ and make a pledge.